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Full text of "The history of the invasion of Switzerland by the French, and the destruction of the democratical republics of Schwitz, Uri and Unterwalden;"

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Printed by J. Taylor, Black-Horse-Court, Fleet-street, 



THIS work was originally written in Ger- 
man, and was printed at Berne, at the 
office of Gessner, son to the celebrated 
author of the Idylls. It was received with 
great avidity in Switzerland and Ger- 
many, and was translated into French; 
from which version, which is asserted to 
be perfectly faithful, the present has been 

The author, Henry Zschokke, advan- 
tageously known by several esteemed 
works in German literature, was nomi- 
n^ted in 1798 by the Helvetic directory 
commissioner of government in the small 
cantons, and charged with the, office of 
healing, as much as lay in his power, the 
wounds inflicted by war. In the course 
of his mission he collected all the mate- 
rials necessary for the history which he 
afterwards published ; and he drew from 


v / - ^ 

'the archives of the country all the docu- 
ments which might contribute to render 
it exact and authentic. 

Its publication in English at the present 
period was thought peculiarly calculated 
to promote that spirit of resistance to un- 
principled ambition, and the schemes of 
universal domination, which is alone to 
be relied upon in the arduous contest in 
which the nation is now engaged. The 
history of the memorable struggle here 
recorded will show what a people very in- 
considerable in point of wealth and num- 
ber was able to do in checking the pro- 
gress of a host of invaders, by the mere 
force of native courage, and enthusiastic 
love of liberty and their country. It will 
show, that, stimulated by these motives, 
a band of peasants could be brought to 
charge with the bayonet, and entirely to 
defeat, battalions rendered formidable by 
their victories to the most warlike troops 
in Europe, It will also afford much valu- 


able instruction for avoiding the faults 
which frustrated the defensive plans of the 
most powerful part of the confederacy, 
and placed the final stake in the hands 
of a few half-armed herdsmen. More- 
over, it cannot fail to impress every gene- 
rous mind with an indignant sense of the 
insolence of a lawless conqueror, and the 
degradation incurred by a vanquished and 
subjugated people. 

The translator has annexed a supple- 
ment, in which he has given a sketch of 
the subsequent events that have occurred 
in this interesting quarter. Besides grati- 
fying a curiosity that the preceding nar- 
rative must have excited; the renovation 
of the democratical cantons, partial and 

imperfect as it may be, will present the 

v , 

useful lesson, that determined valour se- 
cures the esteem even of those against 
whom it is exerted, and softens that fate 
wjnch it may not have been able to avert. 

J. A. 









IN the bosom of the Helvetic Alps existed 
a small republic, which, for the mainte- 
nance of its antient liberty, ventured to 
contend against a formidable and more 
potent neighbour. It is our design to give 
a relation of this unequal contest. Nei-> 
ther extent of territory, nor strength, nor 
influence in the great affairs of the, world, 
were the allotment of this people : they 
have been rendered interesting by their 
misfortunes, and worthy by their virtues, 
their courage, and their energy, of the 
pencil of the historian,, and the survey of 
the philosopher. 

3 ' .,,;" 

Among these celebrated communities 
which first recovered liberty, the very 
name of which had been lost in Europe, 
the inhabitants of Sehwitz were formerly 
distinguished; and their exploits gained 
them the honour of giving name to the 
rest of Helvetia. Equally faithful to the 
liberty which they had won with their 
swords, and jealous of their glory, they 
finally yielded only to force, and did not 
relinquish a constitution under which they 
had enjoyed five centuries of happiness, 
till further resistance was become impos- 
sible. Too soon the fame of their misery 
equalled that of their past felicity ! This 
circumstance will doubtless suffice to ex- 

- * . * "--i i- .' K -v* ; 

cite our attention to the concluding de- 
stiny of this pastoral commonwealth. If 
the narrow 'bounds of its strength and 
means have precluded it from acting a 
brilliant part in the historical drama, the 
manner in which it suffered and fell can 
scarcely fail to entitle it to the homage of 
the enlightened observer. 

But before we proceed to the events 
which brought on its fall, let us cast a rapid 
glance on its state previously to this ca- 


THE entire territory of Schwitz presented 
a surface of no more than twenty-one 
square miles *. It was bounded to the 
north by the lake of Zurich; to the east 
by a chain of mountains separating it 
from the canton of Claris ; to the south 
and the west by tremendous rocks and by 
the cantons of Lucerne and Zurich. 

The air of this district is pure and salu- 
brious, and favourable to the growth of 
men and vegetables. In autumn and win- 
ter, however, thick fogs often overspread 
the valleys, and settle in them for weeks 

Its most spacious and agreeable valley 
rises in an amphitheatrical form from the 
borders of the lake of Waldstaeten to the 
foot of the Haggenberg mountain. It is 
filled with rich pastures, fine fruit-trees, 
cabins, detached houses, and some villages. 
In its bottom is the town of Schwitz, di- 
stinguished _from afar by its handsome 

* German miles, 1 5 to a degree, 
B 2 


The torrent of Moutta divides this val- 
ley in its serpentine course. It rushes 
from a neighbouring valley, to which it 
gives name, and which stretches four 
leagues to the east amidst very high moun- 
tains. This unites with the Bisithal ; and 
both are surrounded by a wall of rocks, 
whence burst in many cascades the waters 
which feed the Moutta. 

To the north of Schwitz, between the Rigi 
and the Rosberg, on the side of Kusnacht, 
is a still pleasanter valley. It surrounds 
the charming lake of Lovertz, the banks 
of which are bordered with villages and 
trees of every kind. The mountains in 
this part assume an aspect equally brilli- 
ant and varied, and the limits of- the val- 
ley 'are lost in the horizon. An arid and 
stony road to the north-east of Schwitz, 
carried over that part of the Haggenberg 
which approaches the lake of Lovertz, 
leads to the villages of Sattel and Rothen- 
thurrn, situated in a pleasant plain in the 
vicinity of the Alps. Thence is descried 
Morgarten, that classic ground of liberty, 
immortalized by the victory obtained by 
the Swiss over the duke of Austria. The 

plain of Ixothentlmrm is prolonged in a 
slope between the heights of St. Jost and 
Samstageren, to the foot of the Katzen- 
strik. This mountain here forms the 
boundary between the country we have 
just described and the valley of Einsied- 
len, or Our Lady of the Hermits. 

This valley was formerly a desert forest. 
The hermit Meinrad irr the beginning of 
the ninth century entered it, accompanied 
with his pious followers, and this is the 
date of its population. Its forests have 
been cleared as far as the foot of the 
mountain, but the rigour of the climate 
does not permit the valley to be well cul- 
tivated. The soil moreover is marshy, and 
yields little besides an immense quantity 
of turf, 

To the north rises mount Ezelberg, co- 
vered with a forest of fir trees. It is crossed 
by an extremely fatiguing road, opening 
into rich valleys which stretch as far as the 
lake of Zurich, 

Such are the countries which formerly 
composed the republic of Schwitz, but all 
had uot the same rights, 


THE canton of Schwitz, properly so called, 
or that part' which exercised the rights of 
sovereignty over the rest, comprehended 
only the communities situated in the val- 
leys of Schwitz and Mouttathal, together 
with the villages of the neighbouring 
heights, such as Morschach, Illgau, Iberg, 
- Alpthal,- Rothenthurm, and Sattel. Arth, 
and some villages lying between it and 
those just named, also made pretensions 
to the right of sovereignty. 

Schwitz was the chief town. The history 
df the origin of its first inhabitants is ob- 
scured by fable. An antient tradition re- 
lates, that a famine having formerly occa- 
sioned much ravage in Denmark and East 
Friseland, part of the poptilation of those 
countries was obliged to emigrate, and pe- 
netrated as far as the Helvetian forests. 
The land was cleared and the forests felled. 
The colonies successively augmented, and 
spread through the whole districts of 
Schwitz, Uri, and Hnterwalden, and be- 
yond theBrunnig, on the banks of the Aar, 

in the district of Hasli. This tradition 
subjoins, that Schwitz was built by two 
brothers, Schwyter and Tschey, chiefs of 
the emigrated colonists ; but that, in the 
sequel, a quarrel having arisen between 
them concerning the right of giving name 
to their common erection, Schwyter,' like 
Romulus, killed his brother in single com- 

In this spot men were long united in 
society before they formed a people, and 
were recognized as such. Continually 
struggling against the unkindness of na- 
ture, they erijo} r ed the peace afforded by 
poverty. No conqueror took arms to de- 
prive them of their rocks. Hordes of Ger- 
mans, indeed, penetrated in the fifth cen- 
tury as far as the lake of Waldstaeten : in 
later times Burgundy subjected to its yoke 
a great part of Helvetia : in the sixth cen- 
tury the monarchy of the Franks extended 
over these countries, which, in the tenth, 
were ceded to the Germanic empire : but 

* These details are taken from antient manuscript chro- 
nicles. That which relates to the murder of Tschey is 
founded upon a very antient picture which is said to have 
been formerly shown at Schwitz, but which no longer 



it appears that the inhabitants of these 
lofty mountains were as ignorant that they 
had masters, as the latter were that they 
possessed subjects in these parts. 

The rich pastures of the country, the 
Alps covered with plants of every kind, 
pointed out to the inhabitants the species 
of industry which they were to practise. 
They devoted themselves exclusively to the 
pastoral state ; and, in all probability, the 
surplus of their productions passed off to- 
wards the Pays de Vaud, or the plains of 
Helvetia, which, on account of the passage 
of armies, and the abode of the bailiffs, 
must have afforded facilities for commerce. 

The pastoral life, natural and artless, 
sufficed for the wants of the inhabitants of 
the Alps. Rich in their poverty, they did 
not aspire to an opulence foreign to their 
situation. Trades, arts, and sciences, were 
all unknown to them. Each family pre-s 
pared its own coarse, clothing, and made 
the few utensils and articles of furniture 
of which it stood in need. Their habita- 
tions were branches of trees intepvoven, 
and were scattered in the valleys, or back- 
ed by the mountains. Every proprietor of 


a similar hut also appropriated to himself 
as much of the adjacent land as was requi- 
site for his support: the remainder, as well 
as the alpine pastures, belonged indiscri- 
minately to all the herdsmen and their cat- 
tle. Hence the origin of all those exten- 
sive commons in which every citizen had 
a right. This simple distribution, the de- 
tached manner of dwelling, and the long 
continuance of the herdsmen upon the 
Alps in the grazing season, lessened among 
these people the unhappy contests respect- 
ing property, which in other countries too 
soon disturb the frail texture of social 

Men who enjoyed so many properties in 
common could not abandon to a single 
person the care of their management. 
Every year, therefore, before their depar- 
ture for the Alps, and their long separa- 
tion, all the communities of the country 
assembled in one body. In this general 
assembly (Landesgememde) opinions and 
desires were united, and from their union 
emanated the law which every one was 
bound to obey. This law remained in vi- 
gour cluring the whole year, or for a longer 


time, if such was the M ill of the general 
assembly. Its execution was entrusted to 
an experienced person, invested with the 
public confidence, to whom was joined a 
council, composed of some countrymen. 
He was called the Landainman, a title 
which conferred upon him no other power 
than that for which he had been created, 
nor any kind of personal privilege. He 
continued two years in office; after which 
some other person took upon himself the 
burthen of the state. 

Such was the constitution of this peo- 
ple, or rather of this family, each member 
of which was of the age of majority, and 
enjoyed the undivided inheritance of his 
ancestors. When v the Waldstaeten* were 
adjudged to the Germanic empire, of 
which their people then heard for the first 
time, they had already long lived happy 
under their modest compact, and did not 
alter it, even when the imperial bailiffs 
came to superintend them under pretext 
that their country was a dependency of 
that of Zurich. 

-As they were unmolested in their 
* Forest states* 


ners and customs, they did not take alarm 
on seeing a distant emperor arrogate the 
title of chief of their mountains. On the 
contrary, satisfied with finding in a potent 
prince a support against the aggressions of 
their neighbotirs, they voluntarily placed 
themselves under the protection ' of the 
empire, with the reservation of their li- 
berty and constitution ; and the emperors, 
who were little envious of the possession 
of the wild regions of Helvetia, contented 
themselves with having in them brave and 
faithful neighbours, who frequently sent 
their chosen youth to the imperial armies. 

The dukes of Germany or of Suabia ex- 
ercised the protectorate in the name of the 
emperor. An imperial bailiff administer- 
ed criminal justice in the country itself. 

But, in the twelfth century, when the 
empire, involved in a series of wars, experi- 
enced violent shocks, and the emperors 
saw their power diminished, while their 
vassals were aiming" at the condition of in- 
dependent princes, the mountaineers were 
often for a long time left to themselves. 
Then, according to the degree of danger 
which menaced them, they leagued them- 


selves more or less closely with their neigh-* 
hours, or else chose their own chief of a 
defensive union (Schirmtogt). This latter 
took place in 1110, when count Rodolph 
of Lentzburg was called by them to this 

This period of discord and general war 
was, \ however, the golden age of the mo- 
nastic order. Convents every where arose, 
even in the recesses of the mountains ; and 
were richly endowed by the emperors, who 
assigned to them lands and men, and es- 
pecially, numerous privileges. 

Already, in the year 888, the hermit 
Mcinraid had chosen his retreat in the wild 
valley which is now called Einsiedlen, 
More than forty years afterwards, on the 
spot where his cell had been, was built a 
monastery by the hands of another hermit 
named Benno. This foundation, through 
the benefits it received from princes, soon 
extended its power around ; and the em- 
peror Henry II, by the donation, in 1018, 
of an adjoining forest, entrenched upon 
the territory of the commons of Sehwitz. 

The canton resisted this infraction of its 
rights, and maintained its property; but 


in 1114, in consequence of the complaints 
of the monks of Einsiedlen, the emperor 
declared that the litigated tract should 
belong to the convent. Schwitz, struck 
with the injustice of this order, refused 
submission to it, and entered into a de- 
fensive league with its faithful neighbours, 
the cantons of Uri and Unterwalden. It 
was in vain that the bishop of Constance 
launched his interdict against the three 
cantons * : their inhabitants continued 
their rustic labours in peace, and their 
priests in silence obeyed the will of the 

From this period, Uri, Schwitz, and 
Unterwalden have always remained inti- 
mately united ; and, strengthened by their 
agreement, they have vigorously preserved 
the* franchises which they inherited from 
their ancestors. They refused to pay ho- 
mage to the empire, till a formal promise 

* It was not till the end of the t^nth century that the 
bishops of Constance arrogated and exercised spiritual 
authority over the canton of Schwitz ; at least; no ante- 
rior traces of it are discovered. The most antient act 
known is dated in the year 984 ; it is the consecration 
of the great church of Einsiedlen, 


had been made them of respecting their 
constitution, and they had been recog- 
nized for free people who put themselves 
under the protection of the emperor. Se- 
veral acts delivered to them by the em- 
perors successively confirm the rights 
which they had reserved. 

The most remote historical epoch of this 
people does not afford the least trace of 
an intenial dissension, or any change in 
its social organization. The latter, when 
once rendered adequate to the purposes 
of those for whom it was made, preserved 
itself untouched, and was transmitted from 
age to age without the smallest alteration*. 
Every treaty concluded with a foreign 
power contained a clause which guaran- 
teed it. Even the revolution, Avhich, com- 
mencing with the death of the tyrant Ges- 
ler, terniinated at the treaty of Westphalia 
with the declaration of Helvetic independ- 

* The Waldstaeten had completed their political or- 
ganization by the beginning of the ninth century/ that 
is, at the romantic age of Charlemagne. A diploma of 
the emperor Lewis, preserved in the archives of Uri, 
imports that this canton, in 809, is placed under the 
protection of the empire, and that its constitution and 
liberty are guaranteed to it. 

ence, made no innovation on the funda- 
mental law of the state, but overthrew the 
tyranny which threatened its existence. 

Very few people can boast of such good 
fortune. The system of government, whe- 
ther in republics or in monarchies, has been 
always more or less imminently exposed to 
revolutions, and the firmest throne has 
sometimes been on the point of falling. The 
constitutions of the Helvetic democracies 
appear to owe their long duration to the 
security they afforded to property. Every 
citizen, a co-proprietor of the Alps and 
the common lands, appealed to the con- 
stitution for the maintenance of the rights 
which it secured him : hence that civil and 
political equality, which, less the work of 
man and his profound speculations than 
that of necessity, was thereby rendered 
the more lasting. 

Every citizen was attached to his coun- 
try by the same interests ; eveiy one was 
therefore equally disposed to watch over 
the liberty of the whole. The chief of the 
republic had never any other honorary 
distinction than that resulting from the 
choice which the people had made "of his 


' person. He was bound to fulfil his duties 
without the hope of making them a source 
of profit, and could not neglect them with- 
out incurring the public indignation. Am- 
bition and avarice found no aliment in those 
peaceful valleys, and the virtues of the 
people compelled the magistrates to be 
virtuous. The solitude of the Alps, and the 
separation of dwellings, habituated the peo- 
ple to a tranquil' and domestic life. The 
towns and villages which by degrees arose 
in the valleys could never attain to that de- 
gree of opulence which results from the in- 
dustry of commerce : no inhabitant could 
assume a marked superiority to another ; 
and the equality invariably established 
between the citizens induced that between 
the different communities. None of these 
aspired to the vain title of city, which, 
under their constitution, would rather 
have exposed them to dangers than pro- 
duced any solid advantages. 
, Jealous of their happiness, which they 
knew to be connected with the public 
prosperity, the people kept at a distance 
every stranger whom they suspected of 
being able to acquire a dangerous influ- 


ence in the country. From this motive, it 
was very antiently ordained, that no per- 
son, whatever were his talents, his expe- 
rience, or his morals, should exercise the 
functions of judge, if he were nbt a native 
and an inhabitant. 

During the troubles of the Germanic 
empire in the 13th century, the ecclesi- 
astical and secular princes, in their projects 
for aggrandizement, menaced the Wald- 
staeten. The three cantons then, in 1291, 
made an alliance, by which they mutually 
promised to oppose every election .of, a 
judge who should not be in the circum- 
stances just mentioned, or should have 
obtained his place by cabal or bribery. 

The people used the same prudence in 
the choice of their priests. This class of 
men, without property, without country, 
living in celibacy, ever disposed to arro- 
gate power to themselves, more formida- 
ble by the arms of fanaticism than princes 
by the swords of their soldiers, had often 
been more dangerous to the repose of 
states than the victorious troops of an 
enemy. Schwitz, whose sole policy aimed 
at the preservation of its privileges, pa- 


ralysed their influence. It admitted none 
but natives of the country to be priests in 
the canton. These ecclesiastics, in the 
midst of their families and of the compa- 
nions of their childhood, accustomed to 
the principles of the people, and ac- 
quainted with their firmness, were less 
liable than others to be misled by a reli- 
gious zeal which would have been preju- 
dicial to the country. This fact explains 
to us the small effect of the anathema pro- 
nounced against the Waldstaeten by the 
bishop of Constance. In spite of it, the 
priests, as we before observed, continued 
their functions. The favour of their bre- 
thren was in their eyes more precious than 
the anger of a bishop was formidable. 

The three cantons adhered to * this prin- 
ciple, the utility of which they had expe- 
rienced. When successful wars had en- 
larged their country, Schwitz applied it to 
the churches of the conquered territory, 
renewing the ordinance at the same time" 
for the whole state. 

It is indubitable, that to these precau- 
tions against foreign influence", those can- 
tons, in part, owed their quiet and the 


preservation of their constitution. But, 
while they, prudently guarded against in- 
ternal dissensions, they did not neglect 
to put themselves externally in a posture 
to inspire respect. In 1257 they took for 
their Schirmvogt, or head of their defensive 
league? the most valiant warrior of Hel- 
vetia, Rodolph count of Hapsburg. They 
agreed to pay him an annual tribute; 
whilst on his part he engaged himself to 
defend them in case of war, and to act as 
mediator in any differences w r hich might 
arise among themselves, Rodolph, when 
arrived at the supreme dignity of the em- 
pire in 1274, continued to give the can- 
tons distinguished marks of his good will- 
In the year following his election he con- 
firmed their rights and immunities, and 
assured them of the immediate protection 
of the empire. 

The ambition of this prince, however, 
was not satisfied with the throne to which 
fortune had elevated him. Occupying 
himself with the aggrandizement of his 
sons, whom he had invested with the 
dukedom of Austria, he persuaded by his 
solicitations the nobility to recognize the 

c-2 ' 

feudal superiority of his house ; the rich 
monasteries to place themselves under his 
guardianship ; and the small states to 
pay him homage : and he acquired suc- 
cessively jurisdictions, rights, dues, and 
landed revenues, in the whole- extent of 
northern Helvetia. It was thus that the 
abbot Berchtold of- Falkenstein, over- 
whelmed with debt, sold to the house of 
Hapsburg considerable estates and nu- 
merous privileges which he possessed in 
the canton of Unterwalden. 

The approach of so dangerous a neigh- 
bour greatly disturbed the inhabitants of 
the Waldstaeten. Already pressed on all 
sides by the house of Hapsburg, its ambi- 
tious projects could no longer appear equi- 
vocal to them. The three cantons, there- 
fore, resolving to maintain their liberty, 
in 1291 formed a treaty of union nearly 
resembling that which afterwards served 
for the model of the Helvetic confederac} 7 . 
It stipulated a perpetual alliance, and a" 
sacred engagement to defend themselves 
against all foreign aggression, by the en- 
tire united forces of each canton. 

Albert, son of Ilodolph, still more 

haughty and grasping, after having seized 
the imperial crown, impatiently pursued 
his father's projects, but with less pru- 
dence, acd less good fortune. During the 
course of the year 1300 he caused it to be 
notified to the cantons of Uri, Schwitz, 
and Unterwalden, that they were expected 
to put themselves under the perpetual pro- 
tection of his house, accompanying the 
offer of his friendship with insolent me- 
naces. The general assemblies of the 
Waldstaeten, however, unanimously an- 
swered, that they desired the maintenance 
of their privileges, and sent to him depu- 
ties charged to obtain the confirmation of 
them., as-well as the nomination of a bai- 
liff for the exercise of Criminal justice. The 
monarch eluded their request, and gave 
them for judges men purposely chosen to 
weary out their patience, and to push 
them to a degree of resistance which, un- 
der the name of revolt, might furnish him 
with a pretext to oppress them, 

Gesler was the bailiff whom he sent to 
the cantons of Schwitz and Uri. His re- 
sidence was alternately in the country of 
Uri and at Kussnach. Beringer, bailiff of 

Unterwalden, fixed his residence at the 
castle of S.arnen, in the upper part of the 
canton ; and for the lower part he chose 
a lieutenant named Wolsfenscheks, a man 
entirely devoted to the emperor. 

What Albert foresaw took place. The 
choice of these men, of a mean origin and 
of suspected intentions, excited inquie- 
tude and discontent. The bailiffs them- 
selves, by their arrogant conduct, too soon 
justified the alarm they inspired. They as- 
sumed an authority which had never been 
entrusted to them. Sullied with crimes 
themselves, they punished with barbarity 
the slight offences of the people ; and, re- 
lying upon the prerogative of free mem- 
bers of the Germanic body, they were 
not content with insulting the simple in- 
habitants, but manifestly showed an in- 
tention of subjugating them. 

The known character of Albert, and se- 
veral of his actions posterior to the period 
of which we are speaking, prove that his 
bailiffs in their vexations did no more than 
follow his orders. For the purpose of 
making the Waldstaeten feel that they 
were dependent upon him, he from time 


to time interrupted all communication be- 
tween them and his hereditary states, or 
at least made -them pay excessive duties. 

The cantons, left to themselves, for a 
Ion a; time suffered in silence. The bailiffs 


did not relax in their vexations, and pre- 
sently there was no security either for per- 
sons or properties. It was thus that three 
men conspired to dig the grave of the li- 
berties of the AValdstaeten ; but three others 
watched at the edge of the precipice, and 
gained immortal honour by saving them. 

Werner de Stauffach, Arnold Anderhal- 
den de Melchthal, and Walter Furst, con- 
ceived in 1307 the generous design of libe- 
rating their country. Each of them asso^ 
ciated ten resolute men, and fixed the day 
and the hour on which the conspiracy was 
to break out. To this time is shown, be- 
tween Uri and Unterwalden, near the lake 
of Waldstaeten, the stone upon which, in 
the night of November 17, 1307, they en- 
gaged themselves by a solemn oath. But, 
before the appointed day, the bailiff Ges~ 
ler fell under the shaft of a young man of 
Uri, William Tell of Burglen, son-in-law 
of Furst. His action is well known : it did 


not in the least disconcert the measures of 
the conspirators. 

On the first of January the three cantons 
were freed without striking a blow ; and 
the vassals of the house of Austria, who had 
been made prisoners, were expelled the 
country, after exacting from them an oath 
never to return. Without dreading the 
resentment of Albert, and strong in the 
justice of their cause, the three states re- 
newed their antient alliance, and swore to 
defend with their lives and properties the 
liberty which they had regained. Joining 
moderation to courage, they forbore to 
sully the glory of their success by acts of 
vengeance on their late oppressors. Faith- 
ful to their duty towards the empire and 
the other lawful princes, they refused an 
asylum to John of Suabia, who had assas- 
^inated Albert in the iftidst of his 'prepa- 
rations against the Waldstaeten. 

It was not, however, to their generous 
conduct, so much as to the confusion that- 
prevailed in the empire, that they were 
first indebted for the happiness of escaping 
the consequences of their bold procedure. 
Henry VII, successor to Albert, was ob~ 


liged to approve their violence. He took 
them under the protection of the empire, 
and gave them a new bailiff for the admi- 
nistration of criminal justice. 

After the death of Henry, two potent 
rivals disputed the supreme dignity of the 
German empire; Lewis duke of Bava- 
ria, and Frederic duke of Austria. The 
Waldstaeten declared for the former, for 
they were still at variance with the house 
of Austria on account of the limits be- 
tween Schwitz and Einsiedlen. This house 
possessed the sovereignty of the convent 
of Einsiedlen, and in its name raised vex- 
atious claims. The Waldstaeten were 
therefore the objects of a double displea- 
sure, and the house of Hapsburg prepared 
for vengeance. Accommodation was at- 
tempted, but without effect. Leopold of 
Austria, brother of Frederic, advanced to- 
wards the cantons with an army of 15,000 
men. Of these he took 10,000 and march- 
ed against Schwitz. The remainder of his 
army was entrusted to Otho of Strasberg, 
who had orders to proceed by Brunig and 
Lucerne, and attack Unterwaldep. 

The people of Schwitz, reinforced by 


the two other cantons, awaited their in- 
vader on the heights of Morgarten with 
thirteen hundred men. He came and was 
beaten. This action took place on the 
morning of November 15, 1315. Otho of 
Strasberg and his army underwent a simi- 
lar fate in the mouhtains of Obwalden. 

The victory of Morgarten confirmed 
Swiss liberty and the alliance of the Walcl- 
staeten. It was the occasion of the succes- 
sive alliances of all the people of Helvetia, 
which became famous to posterity under 
the name of the Helvetic confederacy. 

A few years after this event, the Walel- 
staeten were surrounded by faithful friends, 
and their mountains secured from the at- 
tempts of Austria. Lucerne, Zurich, Cla- 
ris, Zug, and some time afterwards, Berne, 
made alliance with them ; either because 
these cantons apprehended injury from the 
house of Hapsburg and from a haughty 
nobility, or because they suffered under 
internal dissensions. Austria and the Hel- 
vetic nobility exhausted themselves in in- 
effectual efforts, while their enemies daily 
increased in power. The confederates, 
when called aipon to defend their hearths 

and their forms of government, fought 
with an unanimity which appeared like 
that of members of the same family, ra- 
ther than of soldiers of different states. 
Companions in danger and glory, they be- 
came accustomed to regard each other as 
brethren. The long practice of arms, join- 
ed with almost constant success, rendered 
them enterprizing ; and the heart-felt con- 
sciousness of having a good cause to de- 
fend , preserved them from want of -fidelity 
to their allies. 

The battles of Sempacn and Naefels 
finished what that of Morgarten began. 
Austria, Jiopeless of reducing enemies now 
become so formidable, accepted peace. 
This was at first, in 1389? concluded only 
for seven years ; in 1394 it was prolonged 
to twenty years; and in 1412, to fifty. 
The victorious cantons Remained in pos- 
session of their conquests. Formerly me- 
naced by an ambitious nobility, they be- 
came its terror. 

The Swiss had cause in 1350 to be con- 
tented with the decision of the abbot of 
Dissentis of the great dispute relative to 
the domains of the convent of Einsiedlen; 


but a short time after, the latter was forced 
to acknowledge the superiority of the can- 
ton of Schwitz, and to pay it homage. In 
1510 Schwitz had purchased of the house 
d>f Hapsburg the towns of Arth and Kus- 
tiacht. It was thus that this small repub- 
lic insensibly augmented its strength by 
enlarging its territory. 

The remarkable events and glorious ac- 
tions of this period rendered it indisputa- 
bly the most brilliant in the history.of the 
confederates. The invincible bravery of 
their armies excited the admiration of the 
world ; whilst the simplicity of their man- 
ners, their respect for the faith of treaties, 
and their moderation in victory, com- 
manded its esteem. 

When the emperor Sigismund took the 
field against the duke of Austria, and in 
the name of the empire summoned the 
cantons to join him, they refused, alleging 
as their reason the treaty of peace which 
they had concluded. The" emperor mena- 
ced them, but in vain ; and they remained 
faithful to their oath. The great council, 
however, then assembled at Constance, 
took the part of Sigismund, and, in the 


name of the church, disengaged the Swiss 
from the obligations of the treaty. They 
then, in obedience to the commands of 
the church and the emperor, marched 
against the duke. The succours the}' 
granted to Sigisniund were recompensed 
by the districts which they conquered from 
the house of Hapsburg. 

The power possessed in Helvetia by this 
house was almost entirely destroyed by 
these redoubled blows, and in proportion 
to its decline, the bands of the confede- 
racy were tightened ; whilst the nobilitj r , 
once so proud, bent the neck before the 
allies. The canton of Schwitz participated 
in the advantages of the war. It enjoy- 
ed co-sovereignty over the bailiwicks of 
Baden, Mellingen, and Bremgarten, which 
were a common conquest of the cantons 
of Zurich, Lucerne, Schwitz, Uri, Unter- 
walden, Zug, and Claris, and thenceforth 
belonged to/ them in common. The can- 
ton of Uri alon6 refused to take its share. 
It had made war in obedience to the 


church and the empire, and not to enrich 
itself with the spoils of the vanquished. 



should grossly deceive ourselves were 
we to compare the art of war of those times 
with that which now exists, or the strength 
of * the neighbours of Switzerland at that 


period with their present strength. It can- 
not be concealed, that the fortunate confe- 
derates owed a great part of their success to 
circumstances which the course of time 
and events has entirely changed. A crowd 
of small powers, ecclesiastical and secular, 
had risen upon the ruins of the French mon- 
archy, favoured by the dreadful anarchy 
which had laid waste the German empire. 
Cities, abbeys, and knights, wished to be 
independent, and their independence was 
solely secured by the weakness of their 
neighbours. To the short wars between 
.them succeeded treaties of peace of equal- 
ly short duration ; for the complication of 
their interests, -and the jealous distrust 
they entertained of each other, left among 
them the leaven of eternal discord. 

The confederates happily had not to 
contend with a single adversary whose sole 


will directed, as occasion required, the 
force employed against them. The coa- 
lition of their enemies was composed of 
heterogeneous parts, which often jarred in 
their inclinations or movements. Thus, 
for instance, in 1386, the Swiss received 
at the same time a partial declaration of 
war from more than a hundred and fifty ec- 
clesiastic and secular princes. The common 
danger then acted more powerfully upon 
their minds than even their oath had done ; 
while their enemies, actuated by different 
hopes and motives, were more discordant 
than united. The Helvetian on the field 
of battle knew what was the prize for 
which he fought ; he knew that liberty or 
slavery awaited him, and between these 
alternatives he had no other choice than 
death. But the soldiers of the . other 
party > engaged for a limited term, and 
foreseeing no melioration of their lot, 
whether victors or vanquished, regarded 
with indifference defeat or victory. 

The armies of. that period were not per- 
manent. At the approach of a war sol- 
diers were enlisted, who were disbanded 

at the peace, or after a limited service. 
Hence it resulted, that they were without 
discipline or any knowledge of tactics ; 
while the confederates, forced by Austria 
to remain armed for above a century, were 
instructed in the art of war, and rendered 
excellent soldiers. Hardened to fatigues, 
battle was only a sport to them. At the 
beginning of the war they kept on the de- 
fensive, but they soon learned to attack. 
At the battle of Morat, skilful military 
evolutions took place of their former de- 
fective arrangement. 

The cavalry was the flower of the hostile 
army. The nobility, trained to war from 
their youth, and spurred on by honour, 
were infinitely superior to the infantry. 
The cavaliers, covered with iron armaur, 
almost always fought on horseback; yet 
when the ground was unfavourable they 
dismounted, and uniting in a column pre- 
sented an impenetrable front. But what 
assured them the victory in a plain, was 
the cause of their defeat in a mountainous 
country. Their horses with difficulty 
climbed the rough paths, and the enor- 


mous weight of their armour delivered 
them up almost defenceless to their agile 

Further, the ignorance of the roads and 
geography of the country, and the want 
of provisions and magazines, were addi- 
tional obstacles to the invading army, un- 
known to the inhabitant of Switzerland, 
who contented himself with the most fru- 
gal nourishment, and was acquainted with 
all the paths and defiles of his mountains. 
These advantages, with some others, re- 
stored the equilibrium which superiority 
of number destroyed ; and the courage 
which love of liberty inspired in the Swiss, 
with their hatred of a horde of greedy 
mercenaries, caused the balance to incline 
in their favour. 

After having triumphed over the house 
of Hapsburg, each of the eight cantons, 
enjoying the fruit of its toils, was occu- 
pied on its internal organization. Almost 
all, at the close of a century's warfare, 
found themselves richer in territory and 
population than at its commencement. 
Long before its termination, and even in 
the midst of daners and combats, the 



confederates, proud of their cause, made 
advantage of their success. Every where 
their banners, preceded by victory, brought 
with them popular liberty. It seemed to 
them unjust to refuse to others the blessing 
which they were securing to themselves by 
the dearest sacrifices. The neighbouring 
districts, occupied by their troops, were 
delivered from the yoke of Austria, and 
admitted to the confederacy of the Wald- 
staeten. In this manner Claris and Zug 
received the benefit of freedom from the 
hands of their conquerors ; and gratitude, 
as well as interest, converted them into 
faithful allies. 

But in the progress of years, and when 
the confederates had acquired with cer- 
tainty a decided superiority, they became 
less generous, and were satisfied with 
snatching the privileges of the house of 
Austria, without restoring them to the 
people at whose cost they had been exer- 
cised. The example of the towns of Lu- 
cerne, Zurich, and Berne, which had con- 
siderably enlarged their domains, seduced 
the Waklstaeten, and made them desirous 
of a similar aggrandizement. It was then 


that a people, enjoying the purest liberty, 
and impatient of the least infringement of 
it, were seen to entertain the project of 
giving themselves subjects. 

The confederacy, though increased in 
strength by the augmentation of the con- 
tracting parties, appeared interiorly to 
want a durable bond. Composed of states 
so dissimilar in population, power, and 
resources, the alliance often underwent 
shocks from interna] passions, which 
sprang up in proportion as external dan- 
ger became more remote. Each of the 
eight cantons, busied in its own concerns, 
neglected those of the general body, and 
cared little for strengthening the tie which 
united it to its allies. Uri, Schwitz, and 
Unterwalden, which were the centre of 
the Helvetic league, made contracts with 
the other cantons, while these failed to 
renew their reciprocal engagements with 
each other. The antient existing treaties 
were not the same for all. Zug, for in- 
stance, had not the same rights with the 
other cantons ; and in case of an alliance 
or a war with a foreign power, it was 
bound to obey the determination of the 
D 2 


older ones. The confederation, however, 
had for its essential object to guarantee to 
all and by all their established constitution 
and received privileges. 

The efforts made by each canton to dis- 
pense itself from every new obligation to- 
wards its allies, and to be its own security 
for its liberty and sovereignty, very often 
brought the confederacy into danger of dis- 
solution. Schwitz and Zurich, led by ambi- 
tious chiefs, gave a terrible example of this 
selfishness by the long and bloody war which 
they waged against each other on account 
of the inheritance of the last count of Tog- 
genburg. Without regard to the alliance 
. subsisting between them, they raised the 
standard in I486. Cities, princes, the pope 
and council, all in, vain attempted to ap- 
pease their rage. Zurich called in Austria 
to its succour, and formed an alliance with 
the natural enemy of the confederacy. 
Schwitz made its complaints to the other 
cantons, which partook of its grievances : 
thus a civil war was kindled, which lasted 
fourteen years, and gave up Helvetia to 
the devastations of friendly and hostile ar- 
mies. Austria, in her exaspera t ion against 


the small cantons, was not contented with 
sending auxiliaries to Zurich, but also in- 
vited the king of France to second her pro- 
jects. Charles VII, who then reigned, 
took advantage of this opportunity to 
purge his dominions of a horde of ban- 
ditti, who, under the name of Armagnacs* 
infested the highways and ravaged the 
country. A formidable army, composed 
of these and other French troops, with the 
dauphin at their head, penetrated in 1444 
into the territory of Basil. But the heroic 
courage of 1600 Swiss, at the celebrated 
battle of St. James, disconcerted the dau- 
phin, and caused him to prefer the alli- 
ance of such a brave people, to the ha- 
zards of a war which began so inauspi- 
ciously. At length the canton of Zurich, 
seeing nothing around it but desolation, 
sacrificed its alliance with Austria to the 
desire of re-entering the confederacy, and 
bought peace of Schwitz in 1460 by a trea- 
ty ceding some farms and villages. 

After these events, a rest of ten years 
sufficed to enable the Swiss to attack the 
house of Austria with fresh forces, and to 
punish it for the evils it had inflicted on 


them. The confederates took from it 
Thurgovia, and by this conquest termi- 
nated a war which the emperor could no 
longer sustain, having in vain solicited the 
aid of Charles duke of "Burgundy. This 
prince, surnamed the Bold, a title obtain- 
ed by his valour, was rather the enemy of 
France than of Helvetia, and appeared 
desirous of re-establishing between these 
two countries, along the chain of the Jura, 
the antient kingdom of Burgundy. He 
had already driven from his throne Rene 
duke of Lorraine, and had taken posses- 
sion of his states. France, alarmed by his 
projects, endeavoured to communicate her 
fears to the confederates, and by means of 
promises and expectations succeeded in 
drawing them into an alliance against the 
duke of Burgundy. 

A new war commenced in 1477- The 
armies of Charles the Bold several times 
brought the Helvetic confederacy to the 
verge of ruin. At length were fought the 
battles of Granson and Morat, for which 
decisive actions Switzerland had 'reserved 
its whole force. They were crowned with 
the most brilliant success ; and Burgundy, 


after having lost its sovereign in the plains 
of Nancy, purchased a peace in 1477 for 
150,000 florins. 

This war procured to the Swiss much 
glory and much booty. An immense 
quantity of arms, of effects in gold, silver, 
and jewels, fell into their hands. Never 
had these mountaineers seen such riches ; 
but they became the apple of discord, and 
did more mischief than the arms of Bur- 
gundy. The division of the spoil caused 
dissensions. The democratical cantons 
menaced, while the aristocratical cantons 
of Berne, Zurich, and Lucerne, gained 
over to their party those of Friburg and 
Soleure, whose form of government re- 
sembled their own. 

Thus civil war was a second time kin- 
dled, and the confederacy was a second 
time threatened with immediate disso- 
lution. Deputies from all the cantons 
had assembled at Stantz, and already all 
hope of an accommodation had vanished, 
when, by one of those events which seem 
almost miraculous, the eloquence of a 
single man conciliated every mind. The 
hermit Nicholas de Flue w r as the mediator 


in this great contention; and the cantons, 
by his persuasion, renewed in 1481 their 
federative compact, to which they admit- 
ted Soleure and Friburg, 

In this manner the Swiss developed to 
the eyes of the world those defects in their 
constitution under which hereafter they 
were to fall, 

Austria again sought to oppress the con* 
federates, War had broken out between 
them and some towns and lordships of 
Suabia, The alliance contracted in 1498 
by the cantons with the people of Rh$etia 
whom the emperor wished to keep depen- 
dent upon himself, vr as the signal 'of rup- 
ture; but eight battles in one year, all in 
favour of the Swiss, again compelled him 
to peace, which was signed at Basil in 
1499, Two years after this event, Schaff* 
hausen and Basil, which had long aspired 
to the honour of belonging to the Helvetic 
confederacy, were incorporated with it,**;** 

The Swiss, obliged during two centuries 
to stand on their guard against the ambi- 
tion of the house of Austria, and in this 
long interval arrived at the highest point 
pf their glory, lost, little by tittle, the *i 


plicity of their manners from the time that 
this last treaty, by securing their political 
existence, had augmented their power and 
riches. Passions, till then unknown, be- 
gan to corrupt their hearts. The young 
herdsmen in humble circumstances be- 
came wearied of the tranquil pleasures of 
the pastoral life and the solitary abode of 
the Alps, and were ambitious of acquiring 
gold and military renown ; while the rich 
families, caballing for power in the state, 
disturbed the peace of society by their 
jealousies, and their intrigues to obtain 
public offices. Greedy of foreign gold^ 
they sold their voices to strangers ; and 
selfishness by degrees abolished the sacred 
love of country. 

The Milanese, France, and Savoy, ever 
at war with each other, had, by dint of 
money, made Switzerland the nursery of 
their armies. The youth of all the cantons 
inlisted under the standards of all these 
powers; and thousands of individuals were 
often seen going at once to seek death in 
a foreign climate, or returning to their 
country some years afterwards, more 


laden with the vices than the spoils of their 

These considerable emigrations occa- 
sioned at different periods a complete stag- 
nation in agricultural labours. Sometimes 
famine succeeded, and sometimes even 
pestilence spread its ravages in countries 
thus depopulated. Sometimes also bands 
of robbers were formed of soldiers, who, 
having finished their term of service, and 
become incapable of rustic toil, as well as 
insensible to the domestic virtues, satis- 
fied by pillage their propensity to de- 
bauchery. Such was the corruption of 
manners, that the confederates themselves 
confessed they had lost more than they 
had gained by their victories. In a single 
year, that of 1480, there were executed in 
the different parts of Switzerland about 
fifteen hundred malefactors. 

The sword of justice may strike terror 
into crime, but cannot extirpate it when 
the governors themselves are without cou- 
rage and virtue. The successive wars of 
France against the Italian states awakened 
again, at the commencement of the six- 


teenth century, the avarice of the Swiss 
magistrates. They sold the arms of the 
people under their care to the best bidder; 
and although they partook of the conquests 
made beyond the Alps, the confederates, 
while they enlarged their territory, enfee- 
bled them by the diminution of popula- 
tion, and the introduction of foreign vices, 

It was at this period, in 1513, that the 
canton of Appenzell was associated to the 
Helvetic league. This was the last incor- 
poration ; and the league thenceforth con- 
tinued the same till the moment when it 
was entirely destroyed. 

Helvetia was not the sole sufferer from 
the moral corruption of which we have just 
spoken. The greater part of Europe, torn 
by perpetual wars, partook of the same 
deplorable fate. Our hemisphere had en- 
tirely changed its aspect, from the victory 
which chi'istianity had gained over pagan- 
ism, and from the destruction of the co- 
lossal Roman empire by the barbarians. 
From the countries of the West to the de- 
serts bordering the Caspian sea, a new 
world seemed to have been formed, in 

,.:.: : 44 

which the different nations fluctuated by 
chance, now raising their heads for an 
instant, and swallowed up the next, never 
to appear again. In this horrible tem- 
pest, the ravages of which, after a lapse 
of near fifteen centuries, were still more 
or less conspicuous, the sciences and arts, 
those treasures of antiquity, had perished; 
but their indestructible elements had not 
entirely ceased to act, and this action could 
not fail to increase in proportion to tho 
calm from political storms. 

Germany and Helvetia produced simul- 
taneously some enlightened and energetic 
characters, who combated the ignorance 
of the ministers of religion, and forcibly 
declared against ecclesiastical abuses. Se- 
cu-lar authority, long in rivalry with the 
power of the clergy, and at length recog- 
nizing that the best laws are insufficient 
when opposed by -the immorality of the 
people, favoured with all its influence the 
daring progress of the reformers of the 
church, Helvetia was soon divided into 
two sects : several cantons adopted the 
doctrines of reformation; but the 


staeten, early declaring for the principles 
of the Romish church, never departed 
from them. 

The introduction of this difference of 
worship relaxed, more than any other cir- 
cumstance could have done, the bonds of 
the confederacy. Religious zeal, fomented 
by the priests of the two parties, inflamed 
the whole country ; and fanaticism, com- 
bining with the political pride, ambition, 
and jealousy of the governors, prepared 
new grievances and matter for a new wan 

Schwitz, formerly at the head of the de-, 
mocratical cantons, had assumed the task 
of defending their cause against that of 
Zurich ; and now, in a religious quarrel, 
it undertook the same service against the 
same adversary. Zurich, whose walls in- 
dosed the first reformer, declared itself the 
bulwark of the protestant states, and pro- 
pagated the new doctrine wheresoever it 
could extend its influence. These two can- 
tons soon came to an open rupture, and 
each, proceeding with an equal pace to its 
object, trampled under foot the rights of 
nations and of the people. Scluvitz, mal- 
treating the citizens of Zurich wherever it 


found them, dragged to the scaffold one of 
the protestant ministers; and Zurich, by 
way of reprisal, and seconded by those of 
the canton of Claris who had embraced 
the protestant religion, took possession of 
the lands of the abbot of St. Gall, and pro- 
jected the secularization of his abbey. 
Soon after, in 1529, the troops of the two 
parties met at Kappel ; but the affecting 
representations of the other cantons were 
for this time listened to, and peace was 
happily restored. 

Meanwhile, neither the canton of Zurich 
nor that of Schwitz, in laying down their 
arms, had sincerely renounced their for- 
mer jealousies, or given up their secret de- 
signs. They promised, indeed, that they 
would use no violence towards those who 
should be inclined to change their religion; 
but this promise could not be strictly ob- 
served. The passions were too much agi- 
tated, and the spirits too much exalted, to 
permit a return to the bounds of reason 
by virtue of a simple treaty. 

The violences exercised by the canton 
of Zurich in the territories of the abbot 
of St. Gall, and the progress of the new 


doctrine in the common bailiwicks, soon 
rekindled the flames of war. The people 
of Schwitz, united with their catholic 
allies of the mountains, marched in 1531 
against the Zurichers, encountered them at 
Kappel and in the vicinity of Zug, beat 
them, and, after making a horrible carnage 
and practising unheard-of cruelties, forced 
them to sign a peace which for ever put 
an end to the further propagation of the 
protestant religion in Helvetia. 

Thenceforth the confederacy composed 
of protestant and catholic cantons was for 
a long time exposed to the shocks and 
convulsions of religious zeal. The cantons 
of the same faith drew closer together, and, 
by alliances with the powers of their own 
communion, sought to strengthen them- 
selves against the others. The priests of 
both churches never ceased, by their writ- 
ings and discourses, to inspire the people 
with their holy rage, and to endeavour to 
make proselytes. This fermentation lasted 
for a century; and this long space of time, 
which on other occasions might have suf- 
ficed to extinguish the most rancorous pas- 

sions, seemed only to administer fuel to 
these dissensions. 

The cruel treatment at Schwitz of the in- 
dividuals of six families of the canton who 
had embraced the protestant communion, 
excited the general indignation of all the 
reformed cantons. A new religious war 
broke out in 1655, and was carried on with 
all possible fury. The troops of Lucerne 
surprised those of Berne at Villmergen, 
and beat them ; and the town of Rapper- 
gchwyl sustained a siege against the Zu~ 

However, notwithstanding this recipro- 
cal animosity, the neutral cantons were 
able speedily to reestablish peace between 
the belligerent states. The fear of seeing 
foreigners interfere in a domestic quarrel, 
and especially the heavy burthens resulting 
from the expenses of war, were reasons suf- 
ficiently powerful to determine all parties 
to an honourable reconciliation. 

The attention of the confederates was 
soon fixed upon the states whose territories 
were contiguous to Helvetia. Those co- 
lossal powers, France and Austria,, a] ways 


rivals, gave each other terrible wounds, 
sometimes in the plains of Germany, 
sometimes in those of Italy. A common 
clanger had always rallied the Swiss about 
one standard, neglecting their private dis- 
cussions. This cause still produced the 
same effect; yet the inveterate distrust 
which prevailed between the several can- 
tons did not permit the union to be suffi- 
ciently general to tighten the bands of the 
federal compact. Enslaved by its habits, 
proud of its privileges, separated from 
Others by religion and manners, each can- 
ton was unwilling to sacrifice the least 
portion of its rights to the general interest. 
These pretensions carried to excess, neces- 
sarily gave room to disputes which 'drew 
civil war after them; and the beginning of 
the eighteenth century furnishes a new 
proof of this course of things. 

The abbots of St. Gall, who had pur- 
chased the county of .Toggfcnbilrg, en- 
croached little by little upon the privileges 
of its inhabitants. The latter first com- 
plained, and then vigorously opposed the 
claims of the abbot. Berne and Zurich 
supported them in this resistance, whilst 



the catholic cantons took the opposite side; 
Hence the an tient quarrel about religion 
became in 1712 the cause, or the pretext, 
of a new rupture. War broke out with 
fury, and the fields of Villmergen became 
a second time its theatre ; but the Ber- 
nese, who formerly had been defeated there, 
now took their revenge : they killed a large 
number of the catholics, and dictated the 
conditions of peace at Arau. 

The confederates frequently since have 
given tokens of fanatic rage ; but the dis- 
sentions springing from it never rekindled 
the torch of civil war, from the period just 
noticed, to the recent one of the destruc- 
tion of the Helvetic league. 

After the independence and sovereignty 
of the Helvetic body had been recog- 
nised by the treaty of Westphalia, the 
Swiss took no part in foreign wars. They 
thought that the defence of their li- 
berty and country was the only cause 
which could justify the effusion of blood 
in war. They were not, indeed, without oc-. 
casions for taking part in the quarrels of 
their neighbours, or even without power- 
ful motives to interfere. The-, war of thirty 


years, the immoderate haughtiness of 
Lewis XIV, the terrible contest for the 
Spanish succession, all in their turns might 
seem reasons for rousing from their apathy ; 
but they resisted all these temptations, and, 
content with preventing by force of arms 
any entrance upon their territories, they 
obtained without bloodshed, and without 
hazarding their military reputation, that 
honourable tranquillity which ought to be 
the object of every war. 

The resolution of the confederates to 
preserve a strict neutrality, was strength- 
ened by the considerable changes which 
had taken place in the political condition 
of the surrounding countries. Helvetia, 
formerly encircled by a crowd of petty 
states, had now great powers for its neigh- 
bours. To the east, where formerly a duke 
of Austria ruled with little danger to her; 
to the south, where she had seen a duke of 
Milan imploring her support; now reigned 
a single monarch, whose dominions ex- 
tended from the banks of the Rhine and 
the Adriatic sea to the Tartarian deserts. 
Burgundy had been swallowed up in the 
French monarchy, which having for limits 


the Jura, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, in- 
spired terror by the power of its arms, al- 
most as much as it governed by its man- 
ners. The Duke of Savoy now wore a 
regal crown ; and the German empire had 
acquired, by a more concentrated consti- 
tution, a strength formerly unknown to it. 
But the confederates, while they with- 
held themselves from all participation in 
foreign quarrels, also prudently restrained 
their own dissentions, through the appre- 
hension of seeing their neighbours interfere 
in them. Their numerous civil wars, and 
the partial alliances which had resulted 
from them, had established an equilibrium 
among these small states, which it was 
equally dangerous to all to destroy. Thus 
repose and tranquillity again entered these 
mountains, after having, during several 
centuries, been banished from them. The 
calm which succeeded such long and vio- 
lent storms, blunted by degrees those ve- 
hement passions which war had exaspe- 
rated. The habitude of quiet felicity gave 
birth to the domestic virtues ; and the se- 
veral tribes of Helvetia, cultivating their 
lands* and giving themselves up to iiidus- 


try, commerce, and the arts, enjoyed life 
without troubling themselves with what 
passed abroad : they did not, however, 
lose the remembrance of what their an- 
cestors had been, nor the confidence of 
being able to follow their steps when oc- 
casion might require. 

This rapid glance thrown over the an- 
nals of history, teaches us at least that the 
canton of Schwitz was one of the first to 
lay the foundations of liberty, and that, by 
its energy alone, and in spite of the feeble- 
ness of its means, it was one of those which 
contributed the most to propagate it in 
the rest of Helvetia. Faithful to its prin- 
ciples, it never departed from them; and 
its constitution maintained itself entire till 
the day of the total destruction of the Hel- 
vetic league. 



Two things are sacred to the people of 
Schwitz, and held by them in the utmost 
veneration theirreligion and their liberty. 
The defence of each of these has frequently 
put arms into their hands ; and in our days 
we have seen -them fight with enthusiasm 
against French armies much superior to 
them in number, in order to maintain 
these objects of their attachment. 

Christianity early penetrated into these 
mountains; and according to a very an- 
tient tradition, a disciple of the apostle St. 
Peter, named Beatus, came hither in the 
first century of the Christian era, and 
preached a crucified God. Yberg, a small 
community of the canton of Schwitz, boasts 
of having long had the felicity of shelter- 
ing this zealous missionary. Another saint, 
named Martin, is said to have worked still 
more miracles and produced more conver- 
sions than his predecessor, in the cantons 
of Schwitz and Uri, which, with due gra- 
titude, declared him their patron. The 
kings of France also contributed much to 


the propagation of Christianity in the Hel- 
vetian mountains. Ambitious to extend 
their temporal dominion, they did not lose 
sight of that of the church. This, indeed, 
was the pretext, and still more frequently 
the means, which they employed to justify 
the violences exercised upon quiet and 
peaceable people. 

The new Christians of Switzerland, how- 
ever, had neither priests nor bishops till 
after the establishment of the see of Con- 
stance in 570, when the small cantons, to- 
gether with that of Zurich, became part of 
its diocese. The division of the country 
into cures or parishes was still longer de- 
layed, and appears not to have taken place 
till the commencement of the twelfth cen- 
tury. Before this period there existed in 
the Waldstaeten only a very small number 
of churches, to which the faithful went 
ten or twelve times a year to offer their 
devotions. An antient tradition informs 
us, that the countries of Unterwalden and 
Schwitz had for a long time only one priest 
in common, who performed divine service 
alternately in each canton. 


The number of places consecrated to 
devotion augmented in proportion to the 
growth of population in the valleys. They 
were seen to multiply very sensibly in the 
course of the eighth century, but without 
pomp, ostentation, or that external parade 
which elsewhere was rather a mark of the 
decline of religion, than of the fervour of 
piety. The greater part of the churches 
were constructed of wood, and were with- 
out bells : the sound of the horn convoked 
the worshippers; a wooden cup decorated 
the altar ; and painted cloth composed all 
the sacerdotal vestments. 

At the beginning, the scarcity of priests, 
and afterwards, their profound ignorance, 
were the causes that Christianity was long 
in producing that change on the manners 
of the people of Switzerland which it ef- 
fected elsewhere. They who first came to 
preach the gospel in the Alps, had rather 
in view the overthr-ow of the pagan altars 
than the purpose of civilizing the people 
whom they visited. Hence, in changing 
their religion, they- changed little of their 
customs, and preserved the vices and vir- 


tues of men in a rude and savage state. 
Hospitable in their cottages, frank and sin- 
cere with their friends as with their ene- 
mies, exact in performing their promises; 
they were cruel in war, and often barba- 
rously abused victory. 

Love for liberty was always their ruling 
passion, and on every occasion had the 
ascendancy over their respect for the 
church. They recognized the authority of 
the latter, but they placed its empire in 
things relating to another world, and would 
never, in this, yield it the smallest portion 
of that sovereignty which they claimed 
exclusively for themselves. They early pro- 
fessed these principles in their dispute 
with the convent of Einsiedlen ; they fre- 
quently made alliance with emperors who 
had been excommunicated ; and when the 
church launched its formidable thunder- 
bolt against themselves, without dreading 
its anger, they quietly ordered their priests 
to continue in their functions. 

The war which they had to sustain dur- 
ing several centuries, softened nothing of 
their antient rudeness,, and did not render 



them more submissive to the ordinances of 
the church, though it was a time when 
kings and emperors were obliged to. humi- 
liate themselves before the priesthood. 
The same herdsmen who went to pray over 
the tomb of a friend for the safety of his 
soul, or who came to church with their 
wives and children to implore the bene- 
diction of heaven upon those pastures to 
which, for the first time in the year, they 
led their cattle these very men, when at 
war, destroyed churches, fired convents, 
massacred priests upon the ruins of their 
altars, and celebrated their solemn festivals 
with the carnage of battle. 

The superstitions and errors of paganism 
had made, upon the simple and credulous 
minds of men } T et in a state of nature, im- 
pressions too strong to be speedily effaced. 
A less austere doctrine would naturally be 
preferred to one which w^as more so; hence 
many usages of the pagan religion perpe- 
tuated themselves even to our da} 7 s, not- 
withstanding all the efforts of the priests 
to abolish them. We may give as an in- 
stance of these customs of remote origin, 

that which permitted young men before 
marriage to pass the night with girls of 
Avhom they w^re enamoured. 

The native of Uri is of a tranquil cha- 
racter; that of Unterwalden is of a melan- 
choly one. The inhabitant of Schwitz 
surpasses his neighbours in strength, viva- 
city, and good humour. He is passion- 
ately fond of dancing, which diversion en- 
ters into all his festivals. The rejoicings 
of the carnival were allowed without any 
check in this canton, and no where were 
they more noisy or numerous. The church 
could not give to this country a more 
agreeable festival. Hundreds of fires were 
kindled upon the heights, to which the 
people flocked in crowds, with dancing and 
good cheer. 

The eve of twelfth-day was celebrated in 
a still more tumultuous manner. Grown 
men, youths, children, mingled together, 
ran backwards and forwards in the valleys, 
uttering joyful cries, and carrying with 
them all sorts of instruments capable of 
making a loud noise. On that day every 
thing was done that could be devised for 
diversion, and the joy was Animated in 


proportion as it was clamorous. The priests 
long employed useless efforts, both in the 
pulpit and confessional, against this kind 
of saturnalia; and it was only by degrees, 
and very late, that this riotous custom 
sunk into disuse. 

The case was the same with respect to 
several superstitious opinions which for- 
merly were held in great veneration in 
the valleys of Helvetia. Sorcerers were ho- 
noured, and were interrogated concerning 
futurity: an attentive ear was also given to 
the cries of dogs or of birds, which were 
regarded as lucky or sinister omens. A 
practice is still remembered which was for- 
merly used on the vigil of St. Andrew. The 
young girl, who was curious to know who 
was to be her future husband, shut herself 
up with a wizard, stript herself naked, and 
- in this mysterious conference was informed 
of the desired secret. 



CHRISTIANITY, as it was first taught to 
the pagans, was a system of great simpli- 
city, and easy to comprehend. Baptism, 
the passion, and some prayers, were all the 
points to be studied in order to enter the 
pale of the church. But the zeal of the 
monks and priests, ambition and igno- 
rance, soon accumulated a crowd of foreign 
ceremonies. The people, too credulous 
and simple to discern the true end and 
spirit of religion, voluntarily submitted to 
the will of the church, and accepted anum- 
ber of mummeries, which, while they ad- 
dressed themselves to the senses, promised 
them the enjoyments of eternity. 

It is observed, that besides the ordinary 
ceremonies of the catholic religion, prac- 
tices have obtained in the valleys of Switz- 
erland which are unknown elsewhere. We 
shall relate some of these, as affording ma- 
terials for the moral Jiistory of the moun- 
taineers * 

* These customs have been taken from different ma- 
nuscripts found in the churches of Schwitz. 



On Christmas day, in all the parishes of 
the country, the birth of Jesus Christ, and 
the events which accompanied it, were re- 
presented with little wooden figures. 

On Palm-Sunday a puppet representing 
the saviour of the world was led about 
upon an ass. The ecclesiastics, magistrates, 
and judges, the inhabitants of the place 
and its vicinity, joined the procession, and 
celebrated the entrance into Jerusalem 
with shouts of joy. 

With the same gravity was represented 
the resurrection of Christ from the tomb ; 
but the populace and children preferred 
the spectacle of his : ascension. For this pur- 
pose there was placed, in .the middle of the 
church afigure.suspended from-the- roof by 
a cord. The Christ the sound of 
music and the general chorus of the assem- 
bly, after being covered with garlands of 
flowers, was drawn up to -the cieling and 
there remained suspended. Thence he 
threw down the garlands .with, which hg 
was decorated * among the crowd, who re- 
ceived his gifts with loud rejoicings. 

Such customs were likely to have a 
long duration among a gross and cheer- 

ful people, and to this day some traces 
of them are discoverable. As they served 
to cover with a thick veil the true spirit of 
revelation, and the severe morality of its 
author, they were calculated to attach 
more and more to the church, men who 
with respect to knowledge were still in 
their childhood. This sufficiently explains 
how it happened, that at a time when the 
want of religion and of the Christian, vir- 
tues was most sepsibly felt in the canton 
of Schwitz, it was one of those which 
showed most fidelity to the antient catholic 
church. The doctrine of Zuingle tore a 

O ~ 

part of the Helvetian republics from the 
dominion of the holy see, but those of the 
Waldstaeten always remained stedfast. 
Their troops more than once marched 
against the cantons which favoured the 
new doctrine. The inhabitants of the small 
cantons were always ready to fight for the 
old religion : never were they more profuse 
in pious foundations, religious vows, and 
the establishment of festivals; but, at the 
same time, never were they more inclined 
to luxury, intemperance, pillage, corrup- 
tion, and excesses of every kind. A proof 

of this is found in the Regulations which 
were found necessary at that period. The 
laws of those ages are also their history. 


fc: ' '} <'' . -. \^ -i 

THE clergy, while they dreaded the at- 
tacks of the reformation upon the empire^ 
of the church, had cause likewise to fear 
the decline of their personal consideration. 
The ignorance and immorality of the mi- 
nisters of the altars had every w^here pro^ 
troked an amendrne&t in the discipline of 
the church, or, at least, had favoured it. 
In the first ages of Christianity the respect 
6-f the people attended on those who came 
to pleach the gospel to thefti. Without- 
speaking of the dangers to which these 
apostles exposed themselves by braving 
the resentment of paganism, their zeal and 
resignation merited praise. Rich cures 
were not at that time the recompense of 
their cares for the salvation of souls. Left 
to themselves in wild vallies, in the midst 
of tribes of barbarians, it was requisite for 


them to know how to procure the neces- 
saries of life, and shelter from the incle- 
mency of the seasons. Their situation com- 
pelled them to be at the same time priests 
and artisans. 

Soon, however, their pride rejected thig 
toilsome humility. They began to exer- 
cise seigniorial rights wherever they were 
able, as at Arth, Morschach, and Steina. 
Soon afterwards, by their private autho- 
rity, they made laws which gave them sub- 
jects, from whom they exacted subsidies 
and tythes ; they caused themselves to be 
declared free from taxes ; they created sub- 
stitutes and vicars ; and when they had 
any dispute they summoned their antago- 
nists before a foreign tribunal. They ob- 
tained permission to assist at the assem- 
blies of magistrates, and to give their 
Votes ; arid as far as to the end of the thir- 
teenth century, the signature of the priests 
to the public acts is found standing before 
that of the landammans, who were the 
heads of the democratical governments. 

But when, at the beginning of the four- 
teenth century, the spirit of liberty began 
to revive in the Waldstaeten, retrenchments 


also began to be made in the power arro- 
gated by the clergy. An especial law, 
passed at this epoch, separated the tempo- 
ral and spiritual powers, and excluded the 
clergy from the exercise of the former; it 
also took from them all participation in 
judiciary power, and abolished their right 
of dragging the citizens of Helvetia be- 
fore foreign tribunals. The civil authority 
took possession of the nomination to cures, 
and the right of revocation; it even ob- 
liged the priests annually to solicit the 
conservation of their benefices^ In the 
course of the seventeenth century they 
were even deprived of their tythes, and 
were subjected to taxation, and convents 
were forbidden to sell or alienate their 
lands, as they had heretofore done*. ; /;f f 
But although the general power of the 
clergy Avas attacked on all sides, and a 
variety of measures was taken for its re- 
striction, the private influence of indivi- 
duals among them could not be prevented. 
Assimilated to the other members of the 
state, they defended the rights and privi- 

* These successive regulations are found in the ar- 
chives of the canton of Schwitz. 


leges which the title of citizen gave, them, 
and knew how to make the most of them. 
They assisted at the popular assemblies, 
where their opinion was listened to with 
respect. When they got up to speak, the 
people uncovered , their heads, and kept 
profound silence. Their eloquence gene- 
rally swayed the decisions of the assembly ; 
and it is especially in the later periods that 
the authority of their opinions is discern- 
able, since at this time a degree of know- 
ledge was required in the priests ; whereas 
formerly, and even down to the close of 
the sixteenth century, most of them were 
unable to read or write. Antient ordir- 
nances are still met with, importing that 
no one can be admitted to occupy such or 
such a cure without possessing at least 
these two parts of elementary instruction. 
Thus, while the clergy were losing their 
real authority, they sought to indemnify 
themselves by the respect paid by the peo- 
ple to the individual members of the body. 
Originally, and as far as the seventeenth 
century, the priests, and even the bishops, 
had no other title than that of Reverend 
Fathers in God, while the abbots and su- 

F 2 


periors of convents received that of Bro- 
thers ; but, when they had quitted their 
long beards, long garments, and simple 
manners, they assumed, in place of these 
modest appellations, the most swelling 


THE legislators of Helvetia, while with a 
wise and prudent firmness they opposed the 
pride of the priesthood, and the abuses 
resulting from it, traced with an equally 
firm and careful hand the line of demar- 
cation which was to separate the state 
from the church. Religion, in their eyes 
interested every citizen individually with 
respect to the life to come ; but for the 
happiness of the present life, all were in- 
terested in the state. They protected reli- 
gion, not from the conviction that by its 
influence on morals it became the shield 
of the laws and the guardian of domestic 
prosperity, but because the acts of piety 
it enjoined were a means of attracting 
the favour of the saints or the deity upon 
such individuals, villages, or, even en* 



tire countries as practised them. As in 
antient Greece, groves, fountains, and 
towns had each their tutelary divinity, so 
here, every village, every trade, had its 
patron saint. The whole country, as we 
mentioned above, had put itself under 
the protection of St. Martin; and when 
any danger threatened the state, his altars 
were resorted to : but a public calamity 
seldom proved a corrective of manners. 

The indefatigable activity of the priests 
soon found means to derive advantage 
from these superstitious dispositions, for 
the purpose of connecting the interests of 
the church with those of the state ; and in 
a short time they were able to identify 
them. They succeeded in rendering the 
catholic religion a state religion, as the 
law of Moses was with respect to the Is- 
raelites, or potytheism with respect to the 
Greeks and Romans. It was difficult to 
imagine that the catholic, apostolic, and 
Roman church could ever acquire flexibi- 
lity enough to bend to all the forms of a 
democratical government ; and the small 
republics of Helvetia are the sole exam* 
les of this fact. 

70 /,' 

From the brilliant days of Morgarten, 
the Swiss lived only to liberty, glory, and 
their country. Their priests, with the view 
of rendering themselves necessary, march- 
ed with them to the field, and whilst their 
countrymen fought, they invoked the aid 
of the saints. When the business was 
over, thanks were given to them for the 
victory. These prayers and thanksgivings 
were renewed at every battle ; and in 
order to preserve the memory of the suc- 
cour afforded by a particular saint, an 
annual festival was institued to his ho-> 
nour, and celebrated with all ecclesiastical 
pomp. The soldiers of Schwitz, for in- 
stance, swore to keep as a perpetual feast 
the Sunday after St. Martin's day, the an- 
niversary of the victory at Morgarten, 
This vow was ratified in 1521 by the gene- 
ral assembly of the canton*. 

In 1443 they resolved in like manner to 
celebrate their victory over the Austrians 
at Ragaz. They also instituted a perpe- 

* This fact is taken from the chronicles of Tschudy, 
That author relates, that the day but one before this na- 
tional festival is a day of prayer and fasting throughout 
the whole country, in commemoration of the alarms re/% 
specting the success of the battle. 


tual festival for the famous battle of Morat 
in 1476; and in order to acknowledge 
(according to their expression) the good 
offices of the Virgin Mary in the success 
obtained over the protestant cantons near 
Cappel, they bound themselves and their 
descendants in a vow to celebrate religi- 
ously all the feasts of the Virgin. 

The nation displayed equal gratitude 
towards the memory of those who had 
fallen in battle. Their names were trans- 
mitted to posterity, for the state caused ser- 
vices to be performed in every district for 
the welfare of their souls, and pious foun- 
dations secured the continuance of them. 
Their great-grandchildren prostrated them- 
selves before the altars in prayer for the 
repose -of their ancestors, and this custom 
long prevailed. In 1316 a mass was founded 
for the heroes who perished at Morgarten. 
It was celebrated in the parishes of 
Schwitz, Arth, Steina, Muthatal, Sattel, 
and Morschach. In 1386 another was 
founded- for those slain at Sempach : a 
third in 1445, for the numerous victims 
of the long and bloody war with Austria : 
a fourth in 1476, for the brave men who 
died in the honourable fields of Laupen, 


Moral, Grandson, and Nancy : a fifth in 
1499, for thqse who fell at R^gaz and in 
the Suabian war. Lastly, a sixth was 
founded in 1532, for those who lost their 
lives at the battles of Cappel, Zuggerberg, 
and other actions of the same war. 

If the republics of Greece and Rome 
erected the statues of their heroes, the 
pious inhabitants of the Waldstaeten built 
chapels for theirs in the very spots which 
w r ere the scenes of their public sendees, 
Uri erected one to the honour of William 
Tell at Burglen, at the entrance of the 
wild valley which he inhabited, and an- 
other near the rock on the border of the 
lake, exactly where he found means to 
escape the vigilance of his guards. Schwitz 
also preserving a grateful remembrance of 
this hero, raised a third to him in the de- 
file which separates Immisee from Kus-s 
nacht, the very place where the tyrant 
Gesler fell beneath his shafts. 

The inhabitants of Steinen in like nianr, 
ner consecrated a chapel to the memory pf 
Werner of Stauffach, their fellow^citizen, 
and one of the three heroes of Grutli : its 
date is the year H(XX 

The battle of Morgarteji has also its 


chapel : it is situated in a meadow not far 
from the field of action, 

The friendship which in their most glo- 
rious days reigned between the founders 
of the Helvetic liberty, seemed a sacred 
heritage which they transmitted to their 
remote posterity. Steinen, the birth-place, 
of Werner, and Burglen, that of Tell, ever 
remained intimately connected, and their 
union became a kind of religious worship. 
The inhabitants of Steinen went once every 
year on pilgrimage to Burglen ; and those 
of Burglen in their turns paid their annual 
devotions at Steinen*, 

All the glorious and memorable events 
in the history of theWaldstaeten were thusi 
linked, as it were, to the ceremonies of 
the church. The political festivals of these 
people were always celebrated with the 
apparatus of their religion. .They went iu 
procession to visit the fields of battle of 
their ancestors : the monuments erected 
to their heroes were the altars where mass 
was performed ; in fine, there was no pub- 

* A chronicle of Uri, dated 1387> relates that the 
tyranny of the Austrians was the origin and motive . of 
these pious pilgrimages, 


**; _l '? * f V * ' " * -*-" 

lie act in which the people engaged in a 
body which was not accompanied with the 
solemnities of the church. 

From the manner in which things were 
presented to his mind, it was not possible 
that the inhabitant of the Alps should dis- 
criminate the church from the state, his 
religion from his country. The veneration 
he had imbibed from infancy for the deeds 
of his ancestors, and his enthusiastic love 
for the constitution they had bequeathed 
him, were to him inseparable from the duty 
he owed to the church, through which 
alone he had acquired those sensations by 
which he was animated. In factvitUvas 
to the church that he was indebted for his. 
knowledge of his country's history. He 
therefore could not take up arms for the 
defence of his country, without also en-* 
gaging in that of his religion ; nor defend 
his religion without believing that his 
country was endangered with it. Both 
were equally dear and sacred to him, but 
they were so, j the one through the othei'T 
and every change in the Constitution must 
in his eyes be equivalent to the destruction, 
of the faith and worship of his fathers. 


THE catholic religion, "the cold and se- 
vere spirit of which seems to have influ- 
enced the character of other nations, made 
no change in the natural gaiety of the free 
native of the mountains. Joyous by dis- 
position, all the solemnities of the church 
were converted by him into agreeable pas- 
times, and every religious festival closed 
with a feast. The youth of both sexes 
met by agreement in processions, or 
made pilgrimages together: on such occa- 
sions tender engagements were not unfre- 
quently entered into ; and often the pil- 
grims, forgetting heaven and the life to 
come, thought only of the present life and 
its enjoyments. 

No diversion seemed complete to them 
without a dance. Music was also their 
favourite passion, and their consolation 
under affliction. Their dances are lively, 
not ungraceful, and even original. The in- 
habitants of the Muttathal excel in them, 
and their dances, as well as the music, are 
of their own invention ; they seldom bor- 


row either from their neighbours. It was 
only towards the close of the last century 
that the ecclesiastics were able to prevail 
on the people to abstain from dancing on 
Sundays and solemn festivals. 

It appears in general, that it was chiefly 
after the sixteenth century, that the clergy, 
either by means of confession, or by their 
influence in popular assemblies, succeed- 
ed ia civilizing to a certain degree the 
mountaineers, and correcting the rudeness 
of their manners. Several laws which date 
at this epoch testify the truth of this 
assertion. The passion for play seems to 
have been more general among them for- 
merly than at present, for an ordinance of 
1518 fixes the extreme sum which it w r as 
lawful to hazard, Another interdicts gam- 
ing on Fridays, Saturdays, the days conse- 
crated to the Virgin, the vigils and festi- 
vals of the apostles, &c. and inflicts a fine 
upon the disobedient. Profaning the name 
of God was strictly forbidden, and a per- 
son convicted of this crime was condemn- 
ed, by virtue of the law of January 10, 
1705, to kiss the ground, or to appear - 
before a court of justice, 


Such laws, it is true, could not always 
be rigorously observed. The pride of these 
republicans was to be free citizens, and 
this quality was not a vain name, but a 
real title, which procured to its owners 
valuable privileges and advantages. When 
a citizen was attacked, either in his per- 
son or his property, every one was bound 
by the oath taken to his country to come 
to his succour. He who refused was de- 
clared guilty of perjury ; he was coil- 
demned to recompense the person whom 
he had failed to aid, and, in case of dis- 
obedience, was banished the country. 

Strangers who settled upon the territory 
of the republic remained eternally alien 
to it, and could never obtain the rights of 
citizenship, unless the people should give 
their consent. The fear lest they should 
become too powerful caused a prohibition 
to sell or let them lands. A female citi- 
zen of the republic, if she married a fo- 
reigner, lost during the life of her husband 
all her rights to the enjoyment of common 
property ; but, on the contrary, a male 
citizen might many out of the .country, 
and his widow preserved during her life 


the rights she received from her husband. 
This faculty, however, lay under restric- 
tion; for an ordinance of 1675 decreed, 
that under penalty of forfeiture of the 
rights of citizenship, no citizen should 
marry a foreign woman unless she had a 
fortune of at least 300 florins. 

The strangers who were permitted to 
settle on the territories of the republic 
were termed inhabitants. How moderate 
soever w r ere the prerogatives attached to 
this quality, their number rapidly aug- 
mented, and latterly amounted to three 
thousand. Each commonalty prescribed 
to its inhabitants the conditions on which 
residence was granted them. r rhe assem- 
blies of the people, moreover, made gene- 
ral regulations concerning them. A law 
of 1638 decreed, that for the future no 
one should be admitted to the right of in- 
liabiiation unless he should provide suffici- 
ent security ; and in 1668 it was enacted; 
that admissions of this kind should no 
longer take place on any pretext what- 

When an inhabitant married, he was ob- 
liged to deposit in the hands of the magis- 



trate of his district the sum of 300 florins 
by way of security ; arid to pay ten to the 
public chest : he was besides to furnish a 
musket and sabre fit for service to the ar- 
senal. He could make no acquisition of 
immovable property of a value exceeding 
100 florins, and he was bound to pay 
within the year the debts which he might 
contract in making this purchase ; in de- 
fault of which, the treasury took posses- 
sion of his property. From the year 1676 
the right of the chace was taken from this 
class, and confined to the citizens alone. 
They were permitted to fish only with the 
line ; they Could keep no goats ; and the 
number of cattle which they were allowed, 
for a certain payment, to take to the common, 
pastures, was fixed by a law dating in 1514. 
From the year 1661, the inhabitant > .when 
arrived at the age of 16 years, was order- 
ed, on the day of St. Martin, to take an 
oath to the country. If afterwards he 
went abroad and wished to preserve his 
right of habitancy, he was obliged to re- 
new this oath every ten years. 

All these regulations had no other ob- 
ect than that of preventing foreigners 


settled in the country from becoming pow- 
erful enough to form a party in it, and of 
keeping the citizens in a state of perfect 
independence, free fi'om any dangerous or 
hurtful biass. 

The republic, so jealous of the influence 
of individuals, was much more so of that 
which princes might acquire in it*" A law 
of 1587 deprived of his honour and sub-* 
jected to corporal punishment one who 
should support the cause of a sovereign, 
or endeavour to raise him a party in his 
community. Another law of 1516 forbade* 
under a penalty, the wearing the livery of 
a foreign lord, or any mark upon the 
clothes of belonging to him. It also for- 
bade persons to put up in their houses or 
on their doors any foreign armorial ensigns. 

These precautions were not unnecessary, 
for more than once they were assailed by 
foreign intrigue and ambition. The Swiss, 
warmly attached to their independence, 
and faithful to the laws they had imposed 
on themselves, at length no longer feared 
the secret machinations of their powerful 

Their code was simply the collection of 


their written laws, arranged in chronolo- 
gical order. The people annually con- 
firmed them, and swore to their mainte- 
nance. Custom, and the internal sense of 
equity, directed them in the exercise of 
their sovereignty. The simplicity and pu- 
rity of their manners rendered superfluous 
the labours of legislation. 

Most of the decrees of the general as- 
sembly related to the maintenance of the 
rights of the citizens, and to some admi- 
nistrative regulations. For the punish- 
ment of capital crimes they followed the 
Caroline code in all its rigour. A law of 
1416 decreed that every one charged with 
theft, how small soever its amount, if he 
were accused by the testimony of twelve 
persons worthy of credit, should suffer 
death. A law of 1537 did not entirely 
forbid duels, but ordained that he who 
should wound his adversary in single com- 
bat should be condemned in a large pe- 
nalty ;- and that, if death were the conse- 
quence, he should be punished as an 

The law enjoined a particular respect 
to the sick and dead. When a man on his 



death-bed had received his sacraments, 
^yery creditor was forbidden to demand 
his debt : it was his business to wait either 
the recovery or the decease of the patient* 
This ordinance is dated in 1662. He who 
had any demand to make on account of a 
dead person, was obliged to affirm on oath 
that what he demanded was a lawful debt: 
and, if the heir on his part should swear 
that the deceased had never mentioned 
this debt, the demandant was defeated of 
his claim, and the heir freed from respon- 
sibility. The same thing took place when 
the heir, instead of making oath himself, 
produced two witnesses affirming that the 
deceased had denied the debt ; but the 
demandant had then ^a further resource,^ 
which was that of producing seven who 
should declare in his favour; in which 
case his claim was judged lawful. 


AT all periods the industry of the people 
of Schwitz was turned towards a pastoral 
life. The rich pastures of the Alps, and 
their valleys productive of plants of all 
kinds, pointed out the mode of life most 
proper for them. But this was exactly the 
mode which unfolded and fostered in them 
that inextinguishable love for libert}% and 
that hardy simplicity of manners, of which 
they have given a remarkable example, 
from the time when they first began to ap- 
pear in the annals of the world, to the ter- 
mination of their political existence* So- 
litude, more than any other circumstance, 
habituates the mind to independence* and 
gives it that stoical temper which conduces 
to its preservation. 

The increase of their cattle was their 
principal object, and in these consisted 
their chief wealth. To such a degree did 
they multiply, that without impairing the 
propagation of the species, they annually 
.exported seven or eight thousand head of 
horned cattle, into Italy, France, or Ger- 


many, Avhich sold at from eight to eleven 
pounds sterling apiece. This sum, joined 
to that which they received from the sale 
of cheese and butter, which they made in 
large quantity, was nearly their total re- 

Like antient Rome, which studiously 
favoured the progress of agriculture, the 
republic of Schwitz constantly protected 
the business of rearing cattle. In the 
former, it was a crime for a man to neglect 
his field or vineyard : in the latter, he who 
did not bestow all his attention on his flocks 
and herds ^afc vilified in the eyes of his fel- 
low-citizens. The chalets (milking-huts) 
dispersed over the Alps are still the most 
remarkable of the kind in Switzerland; 
and the assiduity of the herdsmen of these 
mountains, as well as their skill and care 
in all the details of their rural economy, 
are truly worthy of praise. 

The sums, which entered the country by 
means of the exportations above men- 
tioned, supported and diffused a general 
easiness of circumstances. This was aug- 
mented by the establishment of excellent 
studs, and by flocks of sheep and goats, 


which furnished sources for an inferior 

The industry of these countries was 
through a course of ages so much directed 
to this sole branch of economy, that agri- 
culture was entirely excluded. At this 
day it is here in its infancy ; and the pea- 
sant who is so attentive to his pastures, 
and knows so well how to make the best 
advantage of them, is almost totally igno- 
rant of the art of forcing the earth to yield 
other products. He does not venture to 
quit the round of his ancestors : he does 
not imagine that he can employ his land 
more advantageously : and as the north of 
Helvetia and Suabia supply him with all 
the corn he wants, he is contented with 
cultivating some kitchen-vegetables in his 
garden, and planting fruit-trees. The lat-. 
ter are very numerous in the country : they 
spread over all the valleys, and, forming a 
continued orchard, offer an agreeable pro- 
spect to the traveller. The laws have al- 
ways protected this brstnch of industry. 
An ordinance of 1664 permits every citizen 
to plant upon the common meadow six 
fruit-trees, the product of which shall 


belong to him and his children, but after 
their death shall return to the community. 
As early as 1440 there appeared a parti- 
cular decree enjoining penalties against 
the robbers of orchards. Cherry-trees pro- 
sper remarkably in the valleys of Schwitz, 
and even among the rocks and in the most 
rugged spots. The fruit of this tree is 
another essential resource : it is dried, or a 
liquor is made from it known under the 
name of kirchwasser (cherry water), of 
which there is a considerable sale. 

The dearth of provisions which from time 
to time has been felt in Helvetia, has, more 
than any encouragement from the state, 
contributed to the improvement of culti- 
vation, An ordinance of 1502 had offered 
advantages to those who should till a piece 
of ground, but it produced little effect : 
custom, indolence, and prejudice, opposed 
all innovation, and it was necessary that 
the \yant should be felt. Recent experi- 
ments however have proved that corn may 
be advantageously cultivated in these 
countries., and eveu that vineyards will 

'' , 



IT ought also to be remarked, that the ex- 
treme simplicity of the mode of life adopted 
bj these people, and the paucity of their 
wants, render agriculture less necessary to 
them than to any others. Each family- liyes 
frugally on the fruit of its garden and the 
milk of its herds. Bread and flesh are rarely 
found on their tables. The herdsman, de- 
tained in the Alps or the wildest parts of the 
canton, scarcely ever sees them. Order 
and economy are the principal wealth of 
the peasant, and give him the means of 
supporting himself. The hemp which he 
cultivates, and the wool of his sheep, are 
converted by him into warm and durable 
cloathing. He is little seduced by the 
arts of luxury, and willingly leaves them 
to the richer man, towards whom he feels 
no jealousy ; his pride consists in living in-"'' 
dependently in his cottage. 

It is thus that, after the example of his 
fathers, and like to the old Romans, the 
Swiss has subsisted to our days, proud in 
Jus poverty, and remote from pomp and 


effeminacy. It is true that, in the larger 
towns and villages of the canton, enjoy- 
ments hg,ve somewhat multiplied, and that 
some inroad has been made on this exem- 
plary simplicity. Nevertheless, whether 
in consequence of the influence of man- 
ners, or the operation of laws, luxury has 
never made any sensible advances. 

The more opulent families, desirous of 
preserving the good-will of the people, 
did not venture to distinguish themselves, 
either by their appearance, or by the ex- 
pense of their household. They allowed 
themselves to wear clothes of finer stuff, 
but they were fashioned after the national 
model. The women were subjected to the 
same law, and all appeared in an uniform 

More information was found among the 
rich than among those of small fortune, 
for public education had everywhere been 
extremely neglected. It was entrusted to 
ecclesiastics or poor village school-masters, 
who were very ill paid. In the principal 
town was a college at which Latin was 
taught, but nothing else; it was therefore 
necessary either to hire a domestic tutor, 


or to send the children abroad. The mi- 
litary service was another resource for the 
education of the youth of this country, 
V', 'ho passed some years in that situation, 
and then returned home to occupy public 

Whatever might be the cause, the na- 
tive of Schwitz was distinguished from his 
neighbours by the vivacity of his under- 
standing, the spirit of his repartees, and 
the goodness of his discernment. In this 
respect he was recompensed by nature 
for what art had 'refused him. Further, 
the form of his government, and the right 
of every citizen to interfere in public af- 
fairs, matured his judgment, and gave him 
that sagacity which often surprised the 
foreigner, who was astonished to find a 
statesman in the doublet of a herdsman. 
In other things the ignorance of the coun- 
tryman was bat too visible ; and seemed to 
have been fostered by the ambition of the 
higher orders, whose interests it favoured. 

There were still to be observed, as in the 
early age of the republic of the Wald- 
staeten, three orders in the state, and three 
different degrees of intellectual culture ; 


the peasants, the clergy, and the nobility. 
There was, indeed, no hereditary dignity 
in these democracies, and every citizen was 
entitled to the same privileges; yet an 
attentive observer might very well distin- 
guish between one who was descended 
from a titled family, and one of a plebeian 


This people, though perfectly free, did 
not, therefore, enjoy all the advantages of 
their liberty. They were still, at the end 
of the eighteenth century, what they had 
been four centuries before ; that is, poor 
and little civilized. It was not to the se- 
verity of their climate, or the wild situation 
of their valleys, that these imperfections 
were owing: superstition, the force of pre- 
judice, the fascination of habit, were the- 
invincible obstacles which opposed their 
progress, and perpetuated their infancy. 

The herdsman, habituated from his ear- 
liest youth to the round prescribed him, 
discouraged from the pursuit of any better, 
method, and knowing no other wants than 
those of animal life, provided lie could sa- 
tisfy them, lived content, calculating the 
felicity of this world according to the 


abundance of his leisure, and the extent of 
knowledge according to the number of 
ridiculous prejudices with which he had 
crammed his memory. 

His industry was limited to the preserva- 
tion of his little property and his religion, 
and to the scrupulous performance of the 
ceremonies enjoined by the church. Filled 
with confidence in the wise and prudent ' 
views which had directed his ancestors, he 
never varied from the line which they had 
traced for him. Every innovation seemed 
to him a sacrilege which would endanger 
his temporal or eternal welfare. 

For some time past he rarely quitted his 
home. The glorious deeds of his proge- 
nitors appeared to him to contain every 
thing that bears the stamp of excellence 
and sublimity. Their actions were inces- 
santly present to his memory. There is no 
country in Europe the history of which 
is so familiar to its inhabitants : even the 
children here were acquainted with its 
smallest details ; and in hearing them talk 
one would suppose that instead of some 
centuries scarcely a few years had elapsed 


since the actions of William Tell, and the 
battle of Morgarten. Elated with these 
events and the glory of their ancestors, 
these poor people thought themselves in- 
vincible by the aid of their arms and their 

Although in the assemblies of the peo- 
ple each citizen had a right to vote on all 
affairs submitted to discussion, it was very 
natural that, through want of experience 
and information, the mass should follow 
the impulse given them by their priests or 
gentry. This last title was given by the peo- 
ple themselves to all the opulent families 
which were not subjected to the labours of 
the field, and which exercised no trade. 
The gentry > therefore, possessed the govern- 
ment of the country : the sovereign, or the 
people, was only formidable to them by its 
own weakness. Credulous., selfish, and un- 
grateful, as in every Democracy, the popu- 
lace was inclined sometimes to one party, 
sometimes to another : they who exercised 
any authority over their countrymen, were 
those who knew how to flatter them; for 
adulation is often an equally certain in- 


strumcnt of corruption, whether it be di- 
rected against an entire body, or against a 
single individual. 

The true lovers of their country often 
declared against this abuse, as prejudicial 
to the general interest, but their voice was 
not heard. They in vain predicted that 
the introduction of cabals would give birth 
to factions, would induce contempt of the 
most respectable laws, and would destroy 
liberty. No longer was a barrier sought 
against the encroachments of ambition; 
on the contrary, the assemblies of the peo- 
ple, whose duty it was to watch over the 
welfare of the state, were so negligent as 
in fact to annul the most prudent regula- 
tions. One of these, of the year 1551, for- 
bade on. very severe penalties all intrigues 
for bailiwicks, or simply honorary employ- 
ments. This regulation even inflicted a 
rigorous punishment on the person who 
should give his vote to any one convicted 
of having solicited it: yet, notwithstanding 
this ordinance, such was the progress of 

corruption, that bailiwicks and other hi* 


crative employments in the countries sub- 
ject to the cantons came to be openly sold 


in full assembly to the best bidder. To 
such a degree were sentiments of honour 
and justice extinguished among this peo- 
ple, that, not contented with having sub- 
jects, they did not deign even to make a 
point of giving them the most worthy and 
respectable citizens for magistrates. 

It resulted from this mode of election, 
that he who had dearly purchased his em- 
ployment, sought to recover from those 
committed to his charge, by acts of injus- 
tice and extortion, not only his capital, 
but an usurious interest for the sum ad- 
vanced. This crying abuse long stained 
the reputation of the people who tolerated 
it, and the partisans of aristocracy drew 
from it their principal argument against 
.the popular rule.. 

- They did not confine themselves to sell- 
ing bailiwicks at a high price:, the place 
of landamman and that of his lieutenant 
irer in a manner set up to auction ; for, 
in order to obtain them, considerable pre.~ 
gents were necessary, which soon became 
a .kind of legal imposition. A. lucrative 
.bailiwick cost some thousands of florins ; 
and a place of counsellor eight or nine 


hundred, although it was only honorary, 
possessing no emoluments besides an al- 
manack and a six-livre piece. The land- 
amman had a similar salary, and besides 
received a duty on the seal ; but in return 
he was obliged, at the time of his election, 
to pay the sovereign people the following 
singular tribute. The election took place 
at the general assembly in the month of 
May : every peasant at that time was ac- 
customed to purchase a straw hat, and the 
landamman was expected to make him a 
present of it. Resistance was early made 
to this abuse, but the people would not 
hear reason: they even expressly decreed, in 
1680, " that whosoever should still oppose 
it, should pay a fine of 100 crowns, and be 
excluded from the right of citizenship." u 

Whilst the people thus through selfish- 
ness opposed every reformation, they left 
in other respects a great latitude to their 
magistrates. The unlimited liberty of these 
republics was then sometimes illusory, and 
little resembling the idea formed of it. 

Although the ecclesiastics naturally de-~ 
pended upon the rich families, they somsr 
times threw off the yoke, and obtained a 


preponderating influence by means of the 
consideration they enjoyed among the peo- 
ple. In order easily to preserve this con- 
sideration, they suffered the shades of 
ignorance to subsist in the country. Neg- 
lecting the schools, they were the more as- 
siduous in the service of the church. Their 
power consisted in the weakness of others. 
There were, however, among them en- 
lightened men, philosophers, who would 
have wished to propagate knowledge ; but 
for want of number a;nd power they could 
only lament in silence. 

The French revolution and declaration 
of the rights of man made a terrible im- 
pression on the priests of the Waldstaeten. 
The manner in which this new republic 
had treated the church filled their souls 
with holy indignation. They painted to 
their flocks in the blackest colours the 
crimes of the French, arid accustomed 
them to hate a nation whose allies they 
had formerly been. 

The rich families of the country, most 
part of whom had acquired abroad titles 
of nobility which were useless to them at 
home, had in this N respect a common in- 


terest with the clergy, and made common 
cause with them. The superiority of their 
information necessarily called them to be 
the guides of the people. Happy are those 
states whose most enlightened members 
hold the reins of government; but woe to 
those where talents and experience are the 
exclusive possession of a small number of 
families. In these cantons, the first ma- 
gistracies, of little consequence as to pe- 
cuniary emolument, were highly so as to 
the consideration which, in the eyes of 
foreigners, they conferred upon those who 
occupies! them. 4 

The abolition of royalty, nobility, an* 
tient titles, and privileges in France, were 
so many causes of rendering it obnoxious 
to the families who governed the small 
cantons; for they saw themselves at the 
same time stript of the credit which they 
had formerly enjoyed in that empire. Their 
hatred of its principles increased in pro- 
portion to the success which attended it. 
The victorious progress of Bonaparte in 
Italy, an4 the enfranchisement of the Val- 
teline, and the counties of Bormio and 
Chiavenna, formerly subject to the Orisons, 



inspired in these families the just appre* 
hension that a day would come, in which 
their subject countries bordering on Italy 
and Germany would be torn from their 

Such was the moral situation of th6 
mountaineers of the Waldstaeten, Som6 
exceptions indeed might be made to this 
general view of the spirit of the people, 
nobility, and clergy; but they who were 
of different sentiments were few in 
ber, and without power, 

A.s'-Vfc'vJr/n^> ^..vij 

fa^ /o Jt^mtoi b/> 



THE inhabitants of the Alps, without 
troubling themselves with the terrible con* 
test between people and kings, enjoyed in 
tranquillity the blessings of peace. Free 
from every foreign yoke, knowing no laws 
but those which they had given themselves* 
if they suffered under evils, it was only to 
themselves that they could attribute them. 
We have seen that they were rude and 
without culture ; but custom guided them 
in the path of justice ; and the absence of 
violent passions preserved them in that 
calm which the virtues always accompany. 
They lived in solitude, without renown or 
envy, and were on that account the hap- 
pier. The political storms which mur- 
mured at a distance, seemed to stop at the 
summits of their mountains. States fell 
in pieces and disappeared from the map ; 
a general confusion agitated the half of 
Europe ; and they alone, scarcely apprized 
of the events, little thought that the mo- 



ment was at hand in which they w r ere to be 
involved in the vortex : foreign nations 
were trembling for their fate before they 
even suspected the approach of danger. 

The French nation, within a few years, 
bad levelled the throne of its kings, terri- 
fied the world by the splendour of its tri- 
umphs, and defeated the confederacy of 
united sovereigns. It remained victorious, 
but insulated in Europe; environed by 
princes reduced to insignificance, but 
whose hatred was implacable. . 

The magistrates of this great and new 
republic recognized the danger of their in- 
sulated condition. The elements of which 
this empire was composed, and the form 
of its government, were too different from 
those of other countries to hope any solid 
and durable alliance betwixt them and 

Between states, as between individuals, 
there is no real union, except that which 
is founded upon similar principles and in- 
terests : similarity in power and riches 
never suffice for its consolidation. France 
wished to secure the fruit of her victories ; 
she wished a guarantee for her future tran- 


quillity ; and to attain these ends she re- 
solved to surround herself with countries 
whose organization resembled her own. 
She therefore Avith all her power favoured 
revolutions among her neighbours, by en- 
trusting the reins of government into the 
hands of those who for a long time had 
been unsuccessfully combating the ene- 
mies of the rights of man. In this manner 
were created the Batavian, Ligurian, Cis- 
alpine, and Roman republics. 

Nations are always with respect to eacfi 
other in a state of nature : there exists be- 
tween them no other law than that of force 
and general agreement. There will nevei* 
be any real public law, unless the dream 
of poets be fulfilled, that of the creation 
of a supreme tribunal, which shall decide 
concerning the grievances prevailing be- 
tween different nations. It is, doubtless, 
painful that justice must give way to the 
combination of imperious circumstances ; 
but such is the course of events in this 
world ; and the wise man consoles himself 
if, among the wrecks of subverted order, 
he can hope to discover the elements of a 
better hereafter- 


Helvetic confederacy, incoherent 
in its parts, and long threatening dissolu- 
tion; now saw this termination at hand* 
Different kinds of intestine disturbance ; 
the remonstrances of the governed ; the 
blind haughtiness of the governors; the 
mutual rivalship between the cantons, all 
united in the work of destruction. France* 
seeing with pleasure the dissentions which 
tore the confederates, did not delay to 
profit by them. She fomented the discord* 
fed the hatred and the hopes of parties, 
excited the cantons against each other^ 
and thus made way for the revolution in 
Helvetia which was soon to break out. 

The cantons of Berne* Zurich, and Ba- 
sil, bad already penetrated the secret de-* 
signs.; of. France, and were almost in open 
rupture with her, while the Waldstaeten, 
still* in, followed their antient 
routine,. without troubling themselves with 
the alarms of their neighbours. Thtyr 
thought that by abstaining from inter^ 
ference with the affairs of others, none 
would interfere with theirs ; and .that the 
pacific prudence of their conduct would 
. secure them from every danger. But the 


jfirst days of December, 1797, brought on 
the precursive signs of that terrible hurri- 
cane which, after having threatened for 
seven months, was at length totally to over- 
throw the government under which these 
people had lived the four past centuries. 
Zurich, the first canton of the Helvetic 
league, invited them to a general confe- 
rence, " rendered necessary by existing 
circumstances, and the purpose of which 
was to concert measures for warding off 
the evils with which the country was me-* 

Soon after, Berne announced that th6 
French troops had taken possession of* 
the Erguel, and the bishopric of Basil, 
and that the canton of Berne was now 
exposed to the danger of an invasion *f% 

* * Circular letter of Zurich to the Cantons, dated 7th 
Pecember, 1797. 

f The bishopric of Basil belonged in jpart to the em-* 
pire, and in part to Switzerland* The portion of the" 
bishopric considered as territory of the empire was in- 
corporated with the circle of Upper Rhine. The single 
valley of Moutier-Grandval, which mad6 part of it 3 and 
0f which the French took possession in 1792_, was allied 
to Switzerland only by virtue of the right of fellow-* 
burghership, granted it by the canton of Berne in 


It invited that of Schwitz to send a repre- 
sentative, and to prepare to give effectual 

The government of Schwitz, that is to 
say, the council of the country, or Land- 
rath, heard not without inquietude the 
news from Berne and Zurich -f-. Not dar- 
ing to take upon itself any measures in so 
delicate an affair, it convoked the sove- 
reign people, who united in a general as- 
sembly on the 21st of December. 

The assembly, convinced of the immi- 
nent danger which threatened the coun- 
try, hastened to comply with the wishes 
of the confederates. The actual landam- 

and renewed in 1 743 : but the rest of the bishopric, viz. 
the Erguel or valley of Imier, the lordships of Orvin, 
(llfmgen) of Neuveville, and of the mountain of Diesse, 
which the bishop held in common with the canton of 
Berne, incontestably made part of the confederacy, by- 
virtue of very antient and numerous treaties. 

* Letter from the canton of Berne to that of Schwitz, 
dated December 14 and 17, 1797. 

f This council was composed of the chiefs of the 
state, an4 of sixty counsellors, ten from each quarter. 
The chiefs of the state were the landamman, his lieute* 
nant (s tat t halter), the banneret (partner herr), the captain 
of the canton, the standard-bearer, the major-general^ 
and the master of artillery. 


man, Aloys Weber, and the late landam- 
man, Meinrad Schuler, two virtuous men 
enjoying the confidence of the people, 
were nominated to assist at Arau in the 
conference demanded by the canton of 
Zurich; and received full powers to do, in 
conjunction with the oth^r Helvetic states, 
whatever might be judged proper to se- 
cure and,confirm the quiet, the safety, and 
general welfare of the confederacy. But 
their instructions at the same time bore, 
that, in case any thing was agitated which 
might endanger the liberty, the religion* 
and the safety of the country, or the con- 
stitution and integrity of the Helvetic 
body, they were to communicate to the 
diet the decree which the assembly had 
just passed, by which the people of 
Schwitz declared, " that they would re- 
main faithful to the religion and laws 
which they held from their ancestors, and 
would expose themselves to the greatest 
dangers, and make the greatest sacrifices, 
rather than permit them to be in the least 
degree infringed"*. 

* Expressions of the decree of the general assembly, 
dated 2 1 st December, 


-'f'ln order to inspire the other Helvetic! 
States with the same spirit and energy, th 
deputies of Schwitz received orders to 
confer Confidentially with those bf the 
other cantons on the means of smoothing 
the difficulties which* they said, arose in 
the aristocratical cantans between the go- 
vernors and .people, anS of disposing the 
latter to employ all their force in the Com* 
mon cause* 

The assembly also sent to Berne, in qua* 
lity of its deputy, the antient landamman 
Charles Reding* an able politician arid 
dexterous negotiator. It was the object 
of his mission to sek by conciliatory 
means to preserve the tranquillity of 
Berne, and of the whole Helvetic body*, 

* Instructions given to Charles Reding, Dee* 23* 



THE canton of Berne, meantime, was 
greatly agitated. It ruled from the year 
1556 over those smiling countries, bound* 
ed on the east and west by Jura, on the 
south by the lake of Geneva, and known 
by the name of the Pays de Vaud, This 
country, resembliiig a delicious garden, 
united all the advantages of a temperate 
climate. The rosemary and fig prosper 
there in the open air, and the town of Vevay 
is famous throughout Europe for the 
beauty of its flowers. A lively and intel* 
ligent people there cultivates the vine* 
and sows the land with all kinds of grain ; 
but the constitution of the country, and 
the internal organization of the towns and 
villages had long opposed the advance of 
the public prosperity. The people from 
time immemorial enjoyed franchises and 
privileges which the usurping policy of 
Berne had insensibly annulled. 

The Vaudois, excited by some of the 
boldest of their fellow-citizens, but still 
more by the secret promises of France* 


.loudly demanded their antient privi- 
leges. Berne irritated them by her refu- 
sal, and the favour of France rendered 
them enterprizing. In order to extinguish 
the flame that broke out on all sides, the 
government employed rigorous means. 
Some individuals, who had with too much 
spirit pleaded the cause of liberty and 
equality, were imprisoned ; but these 
strokes of authority had not the expected 

France, to whom this ferment of discord 
could not fail to be agreeable, took the 
part of the culprits. By virtue of antient 
treaties* she assumed the right of medi- 
ation between the Pays de Vaud and the 
canton of Berne, and declared, by the 
mouth of Mengaud, her charge d'affaires 
with the Helvetic body, that she would 

* The treaty of St. Julien of 1 530 ceded, under cer- 
tain conditions, to the lords of Berne and Friburg the 
possession of the Pays de Vaud, with the rights which the 
dnke of Savoy had exercised in it. In 1564 duke Emma- 
nuel Philibert finally renounced, by the treaty of Lau- 
sanne, his rights over this country, reserving to the in- 
habitants the enjoyment of all their privileges. This 
treaty was guaranteed by France in 1565, which guaran* 
tee was renewed in 1777. 


render Berne responsible for the life and 
safety of the persons arrested *. The coun- 
cil of this city replied with firmness to this 
imperious declaration, that it was ac- 
countable for its actions to God alone, 
and that its constitution and laws were its 
sole arbiters *f\ Thus, France and its power 
standing on one side, and Berne with its 
sovereign rights on the other, these two 
countries were on the brink of a complete 
rupture. The former caused its armies to 
advance towards the western frontiers of 
Switzerland ; the latter assembled troops 
for its defence, and warned the confede- 
rates to keep on their guard. The direc- 
torial government then subsisting, abusing 
the right of the strongest, and substitu- 
ting intrigue and avarice to sound policy, 
demanded in menacing terms what was 
the purpose of the preparations of Berne J. 
The Avoyer and little council replied : We 
do not wish for war, but only to make our 
frontiers respected without, and to main- 

* Note of Mengaud, Basil, 3d January 1 798. 
f Note of Berne, 5th Jan. 1 798. 
J Note of Mengaud, Basil, 5th January^ accompanied 
with an arret of the French directory. 


tain our sovereignty within*. Men gaud, 
without awaiting this answer, wrote again : 
" I declare to you that the members of 
your government shall be personally re^ 
sponsible to the French directory for the 
safety of the persons and properties of the 
inhabitants of the Pays de Vaud, become 
the objects of your vexation, and of the 
benevolence of the French republic^." 

This insulting letter, which breathed 
nothing but war, and the affront offered 
by which could only be washed away by 
blood, exposed to full view the designs of 
France. Berne did not admit that it had 
taken arbitrary measures against the Pays 
de Vaud, and denied the existence of trea- 
ties which authorized the Vaudois to call 
in foreign interference J. It continued its 
military preparations, invited its allies to 
hold their troops ready for marching on 
the first summons ; and, at the same time, 
in order to neglect no conciliatory means, 
sent to the Pays de Vaud two deputies of 
the diet, with injunctions to restore order 

* Berne, 8th Jan. 1798, 

f Basil, 7th Jan. 1798. 

J Rescript of Berne, Jan, 10th, 


and tranquillity even at the expense of the 
greatest sacrifices, provided, however, that 
they were asked in a legal and proper 

Wys of Zurich, and Reding of Schwit^ 
Were charged with this commission. The 
canton of Schwitz permitted its deputy to 
accept the important office of mediator, 
on the condition that he should previously 
make a formal declaration, that neither 
himself, nor the canton of Schwitz, made 
themselves responsible for the conse- 
quences of this negotiation. Friburg, So- 
leure, and the Valais, also consented to the 
sending of the deputies. 

When arrived at Lausanne,' the capital 
of the Pays de Vaud, they immediately 
made known in a proclamation the object 
of their mission, inviting the people to state 
their grievances, and promising their good 
offices to get them redressed -f-. 

The people, meantime, agitated by va- 
rious passions and different wishes, were 
far from being agreed among themselves. 
In the midst of the general fermentation, 

* Relation of Charles Reding, of Jan. 10th 1798. 
f Proclamation at Lausanne., Jan. 15th 


three parties were distinguishable, all 
equally active, and aiming at separate 
ends. The great majority of the country 
demanded with moderation from the can- 
ton of Berne the re-establishment of their 
rights and franchises in all their integrity: 
this party had no intention to detach itself 
from the reigning city, and still less to 
avail itself of the dangerous support of 
France. Others had formed the bold 
project of taking advantage of circum- 
stances, to cause the Pays de Vaud to be 
declared independent, and constituted the 
fourteenth canton of the Helvetic league. 
Others, in fine, were desirous, in imitation 
of France, to introduce in Helvetia the 
democratic system, and national represen- 

The deputies, with a view of gaining the 
majority, received their demands favour- 
ably ; and as the Bernese bailiffs were 
fled, and all the legal authorities were 
either disunited or without power, they 
entered into correspondence with the clubs 
or committees, as the sole means which 
they could employ for acting with eflicacy 
upon the people. Soon acquiring the con- 


fidence of the leading men in these com- 
mittees, they succeeded in causing mode- 
rate counsels to be relished, and received 
a declaration importing, according to 
all expectation, the Pays de Vaud would 
become pacified, if the formation of an as- 
sembly were permitted, composed at most 
of sixty members of the committees, which 
should receive the complaints and the de- 
sires of the country, and transmit them to 
the sovereign. In case this measure should 
be approved at Berne, the principal inha- 
bitants engaged to use all their credit with 
the French directory, in order to prevent 
its interference in this domestic arrange- 

But Berne, in its impatience, learning 
that there -*were still in the Pays de Vaud 
many communities which remained faithful 
to its government, resolved to make use of 
them in conquering the country. It was 
desirous, by a stroke of authority, of in- 
stantly terminating a quarrel, the prolon- 
gation of which would put to hazard the 
honour of the republic. Whilst, therefore, 

* Relation of Reding, dated from Lausanne. 


the deputies at Lausanne were employing 
all their efforts in persuading Berne to 
adopt a pacific accommodation, colonel 
Weiss received orders to assemble the par- 
tisans of government, to form them into 
an army, to get possession of the castle of 
Chillon, of which the insurgents had made 
themselves masters, and to re-establish 
order by force of arms*. 

The deputies strongly opposed these 
measures, which were capable of raising 
the public indignation to the highest pitch, 
and of rendering the revolt general. They 
made their representations both to colonel 
Weiss and to the council of Berne, and de- 
clared that if these steps were persisted in, 
since all the fruit of their mission would be 
destroyed, they ould no longer, in pur- 
suance of the intention of their principals, 
remain in the Pays de Vaud in quality of 
Helvetic representatives. 

At this period there was at the head of 
the Bernese government an old man, full 
of genius and experience, who joined to 
much strength of character, an implacable 

* Declaration of colonel" Weiss to the deputies at 
Lausanne, i 


hatred to the new organization of France: 
this was the avoyer Steiguer. The senate 
of Berne, guided by him, persisted in its 
violent resolutions. The orders given to 
colonel Weiss were confirmed ; of which 
when the deputies were informed, they in- 
stantly q/uitted Lausanne on their return to 
Berne, and at their departure published 
another proclamation*, rather for the pur- 
pose of. acquitting themselves of their final 
duty, than through the hope of any ad- 
vantage from it towards the restoration of 
tranquillity- <^ 

Charles Reding appeared before the 
council of Berne, and held a discourse full 
of wisdom apd energy. He displayed the 
nature of the troubles of the Pays deVand, 
represented the unanimous wish of the 
citizens to be restored to the possession of 
their antient privileges, and painted in 
glowing colours the critical situation of this 
people, dreading on one side the vengeance 
of Berne, and on the other the dangerous 
intervention of a foreign power. 

" A people (said he) who think them- 
selves driven to extremities, have recourse 

* On Jan. 19th. 
I 2 



to the most violent means. Those whom 
I have the honour here to represent, had 
solemnly resolved to shed with joy the last 
drop of their blood for the maintenance of 
our constitution. I repeat to you this as- 
surance in their name, and in the most 
positive manner; but I ought to confess 
to you with the same frankness, that your 
faithful allies of the canton of Schwitz 
would learn with the most sensible grief, 
that before essaying our arms against a 
foreign enemy, we had stained them with 
the blood of our brethren, in the blood of 
a people whom Providence had entrusted 
to the paternal cere of wise and enlight- 
ened magistrates." 

The deputies of the general diet assem- 
bled at Arau wrote to the same effect*; 
but the fate of Berne was already decided. 
The government of this canton, blinded by 
a proud sense of the justice of its cause, 
and reduced to that point in which men 
take counsel from despair, rather than from 
prudence, despised every idea of conde- 
scension towards its vassals, whose duty, 
in its opinion, was only to obey, and re- 

* On Jan. 19th. 


jected the moderate advice of the allied 

Some days afterwards, however, colonel 
Weiss, who, shortly before, had flattered 
himself with striking terror into the insur- 
gents, and bringing back the old order of 
things by the mere display of his arms, 
confirmed the alarming recital which Red- 
ing had made. " The new decree of the 
French directory (he wrote) has produced 
a change in all minds, and augmented the 
fermentation. Shall I speak plainly? In 
all our warlike preparations I see only the 
prognostics of a disastrous war, and the 
signal of an useless effusion of blood. I 
am convinced, that all the means of rigour 
you can employ, will have no other result 
than that of spreading the revolution over 
the whole of Switzerland, and preparing 
the fate of French emigrants for its gover- 
nors. In my judgment, what wisdom and 
morality point out to be done in this con- 
juncture, is to treat these people with 
indulgence and kindness; to give way 
for a time to the passion which impels 
them ; to watch over the assembly of de- 


putics, and to endeavour to gain their con- 

These prophetic words shed a secret ter- 
ror over the council of Berne. They were 
the presage of a terrible calamity, but the 
struggle was begun : it was necessary to 
conquer or perish, and the honour of the 
Bernese patriciate did not permit a re- 
' treat. 

The canton of Schwitz made another 
attempt, of which the object was to induce 
Berne to prefer measures of conciliation 
to those of rigour which it was about to 
put in practice. , It insisted upon satisfy- 
ing the Vaudois in their demands, and 
strongly advised a sacrifice now become 
necessary for the general good -j-. But these 
words of peace were likewise thrown away; 
and Schwitz recalled its -deputies in order 
to shelter itself from the fatal conse- 
quences which such obstinacy threatened 
to bring upon the whole Helvetic body. 

* JLefter of Weiss to the council of Berne,, Jan. 24th. 
f Letter from the cant6n of Schwitz to that of Berne,,, 
Jan. 27th. 



THE town of A ran, in which the charge 
d'affaires Mengaud resided since the 9th of 
January 179&, was at this time the theatre 
of that discord and destructive spirit which 
seemed to reign over Helvetia. The diet 
was divided in opinion, and agitated by 
opposite passions. Several of the members, 
surveying the imminent danger, predicted 
the fall of the Helvetic league. Their 
opinion was founded upon the spectacle 
before their eyes : the.. disunion and mu- 
tual jealousy of the cantons ; the vices of 
the constitution ; the narrow selfishness of 
each small state, which thought only of its 
own safety, without embarrassing itself 
with the interest of the whole, or being 
willing to make the least sacrifice for it; 
,the general cry of the subjects for liberty, 
and the obstinate resistance of the aristo- 
cratic governments to their wish; their 
weak and inconsequent measures, dictated 
sometimes by rage, sometimes by fear; 
the multiplied attacks of France upon the 
old order of things ; her successful efforts 


to paralyse the governments by alarm, 
and to excite the people to revolution by 
hope ; the mysterious silence of the em- 
peror, who remained a quiet spectator of 
the conduct of the French with regard to 
Helvetia, whilst he was the only one of 
the sovereigns of Europe to whom the 
fate of the -Swiss could not be indifferent : 
all these circumstances united, confirmed 
the apprehensions of this part of the de- 

v Others, founding their hope upon the in- 
nocence of the greater part of the cantons 
of the causes of complaint alleged against 
the aristocracies, or habituated to regard 
the fall of the confederacy as an impossi- 
bility, flattered themselves that the storm 
would soon be dissipated. The augmen- 
tation of the number of the cantons was, 
according to them, the sole misfortune to 
be dreaded. 

The democratical states expected, at the 
worst, to see the" aristocratical govern- 
ments dissolved, and independence re- 
stored to the countries under their yoke. 
With respect to themselves, they confided 
in their security, and thought they had 


nothing to fear, provided they interfered 
in the quarrel between the oligarchy and 
France no more than they were obliged to 
do by existing treaties. 

Interests so opposite, and the conse- 
quences of which were so painfully felt, 
threw a melancholy light upon the vices 
of the federative system. Several depu- 
ties took occasion from it to propose, as 
the sole means of restoring order and safe- 
ty, the union of all the parts of Switzer- 
land, and the formation of a single indi- 
vidual state. 

Others, sensible of the danger of such 
a considerable and precipitate change, 
which could not fail to react upon all the 
parts of the administration, knowing the 
evils of political revolutions, and ac- 
quainted with the difference of charac- 
ters, wishes, and wants among the people 
of Switzerland, trembled at the idea of a 
general change. They aimed solely at re- 
forms which might be useful in the fede- 
rative system by the development of its 
principles, and wished gradually to bring 
on a better order of things. 

But the great majority, led by the re- 


collection of the blessings of a hundred 
years peace, by that of the flourishing- 
condition of their country, and the crimes 
with which the French revolution had been 
stained, detested every kind of political 
innovation. Proud of the independence 
which they had hitherto enjoyed, it ap- 
peared to them equally intolerable to re- 
ceive laws either from a haughty enemy, 
or from discontented subjects. They chose 
rather to expose themselves to the dangers 
of a destructive war than to consent to a 
revolution ; and rather to fall while de- 
fending themselves, than dishonourably to 
yield without resistance. 
. The opinion of this majority was trium- 
phant in the conferences of the diet. The 
aristocratical states made an appeal tp the 
patriotism of the democratical, and in- 
spired them with equal hatred of the pro- 
jects of France. It was of importance to 
cause the confederacy to be respected by 
the idea of the union reigning between its 
members; and in order to conceal the 
contrary fact from all eyes, it was thought 
sufficient to insist upon administering a 
solemn oath, in which all the Helvetian 


states should join. To this the democra- 
tical cantons replied, that if it were de- 
sirable to make all Europe believe that 
the Swiss were entirely agreed among 
themselves, a proof of it should be given 
by satisfying the just demands of the 

The oath required was however taken at 
Arau, on the 25th of January, by all the 
cantons and their allies, with the excep- 
tion of Basil, which, four days before, 
had changed the form of its government. 
This oath was the only one which had been 
entered into by all the united cantons 
since the existence of the Helvetic league. 
Almost all those who partook in this so- 
lemn ceremony had tears in their eyes ; 
some, through the joy they felt from an 
act which they hoped would prove the 
safety of their country ; others, through 
the better-founded presentiment of future 

The very evening of the clay in which 
' this remarkable event took place, official 

* On that very day they were informed at Arau of the 
fatal event at the village of Thierrens, which decided the 
entrance of the French trqops into Switzerland. 


dispatches announced the progress made 
by the insurrection of the Leman, now at 
its height : the bailiffs were flying or im- 
prisoned ; the arms of Berne were every 
where torn down ; trees of liberty were 
planted ; and the artillery of Chillon was 
transported to Vevay in order to be em- 
ployed against Berne. This new^s, like a 
thunder-clap, caused the instant dissolu- 
tion of the diet. General Menard, on Ja- 
nuary 26, entered the Pays de Vaud at the 
headof his column. Berne summoned the 
cantons to send their troops to her succour. 

The people of Schwitz met on February 
1st in general assembly, and not without 
indignation learned the late events. They 
unanimously resolved to fiy to the aid of 
Berne. Two battalions of six hundred 
men each received orders to hold them- 
selves ready, the one to march with the 
troops of the great cantons, the other to 
wait for those of Unterwalden and Zug*. 

In the mean time it appeared that the 
same tumults which agitated the Leman 
began to be felt on the borders of the lake 

* Decree of the general assembly, dated the 1st of 

of Zurich, as well as in the greater part 
of the states governed aristocratically, in 
which the people, contesting with their 
governors, aspired to liberty, and sought 
to obtain it. The people of Schwitz, ob- 
serving that this shock of passions para- 
lysed the strength of the state, and deli- 
vered the country without means of resist- 
ance to the attacks of. the enemy, order- 
ed that a council of war, composed of four 
members, should precede the troops sent 
to the common defence*. -This council 
was instructed to employ all possible 
means to produce a cordiality between 
the people and the government of Berne ; 
to sound the dispositions of the Bernese, 
and in case they should be found united, 
and firmly resolved to oppose the enemy, 
then, to consent to serve, in every part of 
the territories of Berne. But, in a con- 
trary case, and even on a supposition of 
the rupture of the federal compact, they 
were to withdraw their troops, and return 
to the canton. 

* To this end were named : the anticnt landamman 
Schorns, the antient bailiff Xavier Weber, major Jacob 
Zweyer, and the deputy Martin Antony Schuller. 


These instructions prove that the peo- 
ple of Sch witz, faithful to their clemocra- 
tica] principles, were by no means, willing 
to lend their arms to the city of Berne, in 
order at this crisis to oppress the inhabi- 
tants of the country; but, already appre- 
hensive of the downfall of their own au- 
1 thority, and regarding only their particu- 
lar preservation, they forgot that all Switz- 
erland, losing its firmest barrier against 
the attacks of France, would become ex- 
posed to similar dangers. 

The canton of Schwitz mean time com- 
municated its resolutions to its allies of 
Uri and Unterwalden, and invited them 
to a conference at Brunnen, where they 
might disfcuss the measures to be taken for 
the defence of Berne, and for -that of their 
own cantons at this perilous season. 

The conference took place on February 
7th. Unterwalden at first made some diffi- 
culties in sending aid to Berne, since the 
condition of a foreign aggression, specified 
by the federative constitution, did not 
yet exist; but at length it consented to 
join its troops to those which Schwite pro- 
posed to send.- It was further resolved. 


that, as the clanger was not as yet very 
near, the present assembly should be dis- 
solved ; but that- the members should be 
bpund to meet at the same place, on the 
first requisition for the purpose made by 
the canton of Uri*. 

Berne, which began to tremble at her 
future prospect, had solemnly declared on 
the same day,- that in a month's time there 
should be formed a committee composed 
of respectable and enlightened citizens, 
which should make those changes in the 
constitution of the state that might be 
thought advantageous to the country, or 
rendered necessary by the spirit of the 
time, and the force of circumstances. 
These improvements, begun without foreign 
interference, were to be completed, within 
the term of a year. 

This important concession, extorted from 
the pride of the governors of Berne, came 
too late to prevent an explosion, now -in- 
evitable : it did not remove the distrust 
arisen between them and the governed, 

* Resolutions contained in the minutes of the confe- 
rence of these three cantons, holden at Brunnen on. 
February 7th, 


and which separated them eternally : the 
flame, which might easily have been sti- 
fled at its first breaking out, was now be- 
come too fierce to be extinguished. Berne, 
at length reduced to despair, loudly in- 
voked the succour of all its allies. But 
they, on their parts, pressed by difficul- 
ties, did not hasten to comply with its 
wishes. The cantons of Zurich and Schwitz 
alone sent each a battalion, of which the 
latter was commanded by Aloys Reding, 
captain of the canton (Landes-Haupt- 


IT was not long before Schwitz itself fell 
into domestic troubles. This canton, while 
it disapproved of the conduct of Berne 
with respect to the Pa} r s de Vaud, seemed 
to have forgotten that it, as well as the 
other states of Switzerland, had depen- 
dants and subjects who aimed at com- 
plete liberty. In common with the other 
cantons, with the exception of* App'enzell, 


it governed the Italian bailiwicks of Lo- 
carno, Val Maggia, Lugano, and Men- 
drisio ; with the eight antient cantons, 
Thurgovia, Sargans, the Rheinthal, and the 
free upper bailiwicks : with Uri and Un- 
terwalden, the bailiwicks o Bellinzona, 
Reviera, and Val Bregno : and it possess- 
ed Gasterand Uznach conjointly with the 
canton of Claris. But besides the districts 
over which it exercised a divided sway, 
there were others of which it was the sole 
sovereign : these were the town of Kus- 
nacht, situated on the border of the lake 
- of Waldstaeten ; the valley of Einsiedlen 
or of our Lady of the Hermits; some vil- 
lages near the lake of Zurich ; and the 
country of la Marche. 

Although these latter, who were styled 
immediate dependents, had great privi- 
leges, they yet felt their dependence, and 
wished to enfranchise themselves. The 
general fermentation appeared to them a 
favourable opportunity for freeing theiji- 
selves from the yoke, and obtaining the 
right of burghership in the canton. They 
were the first to make their claims loudly 



La Marche is that fine country which 
extends from the mountains of Rederten 
and Flaeschen, on both banks of the Aa, 
to the southern borders of the lake of Zu- 
rich; forming at first a narrow and rude 
valley, known by the name of Weggithal, 
but afterwards presenting a pleasant and 
fertile plain. Its -fields and meadows are 
covered with fruit-trees, and tufted trees 
decorate the declivities of the mountains. 

The inhabitants chose their landamman 
and a privy council composed of forty-five 
members. The seat of this council was 
Lachen, near the lake - of Zurich, and 
it had the determination of minor civil 
causes. The appeal from it was to the 
sovereign council of Schwitz. Another 
council composed of nine members gave 
sentence in causes which concerned the 
inheritances, fortune, and honour of the 
citizens; but from it likewise an appeal 
lay to the canton. In criminal matters it- 
only decided whether or no there wer,e 
grounds for proceeding. In case of the 
affirmative, a tribunal was formed at which 
the chancellor of Schwitz (Landes-Sekel- 
meister) presided, and which consisted of 


the landamman and all the members of 
the council of the country, each of whom 
was to associate a colleague taken from the 
principal inhabitants. The people here, 
as in Schwitz, exercised their right of sove- 
reignty, by uniting once a year in a general 
assembly. It was held at Lachen the first 
Sunday in May, under the shade of a great 
poplar. Two counsellors and the chan- 
cellor of Schwitz were to assist at it. 

The people of la Marche had lived near 
four centuries* under the protection of this 
constitution, in a very easy dependence on 
the canton of Schwitz, when, seized with 
that inquietude which agitated all Switz- 
erland, they demanded a larger measure 
of freedom. The signal had already been 
given by the people who inhabit the two 
shores of the lake of Zurich, for they had 
risen against the sovereign city. 

This circumstance was little favourable 
to the success of the demand made by the 

* The canton of Schwitz had obtained the lower 
Marche by the treaty of peace concluded with Austria in 
1412, and the upper Marche by that of 1427 made with 
Frederic the last count of Toggenburg. 



canton of Schwitz on the country of la 
Marche, of furnishing, according to the 
laws and antient usages, its contingent of 
the troops destined to the succour of 
Berne. The council of war met at Lachen, 
and proposed the measure to" the general 
assembly; but 'the people, "who had al- 
ready testified their discontent at the at- 
tempf of retaining the subjects of Berne 
under the yoke, made great opposition to 
the proposal; and upon the motion of some 
enterprising leaders, they decreed that an 
address of the following tenot should be 
made to the canton of Schwitz : 

" The people of la Marche, having ma- 
turely reflected upon the rights of man-; 
and considering 

" 1. That the sovereign^, thq,t is, the 
canton of Schwitz, in conjunction with the 
other states of Switzerland, has generously 
pleaded the cause of subjects, and, with a 
truly patriotic zeal, has advised satisfying 
them in their demands, which has pro- 
duced such an effect, that the aristocra- 
tical cantons have granted them full and 
entire liberty ; 


" 2. That the canton of Schwitz ac- 
quired the country of la Marche without 
expense or effusion of blood; 

" 3. That the inhabitants of la March 
have shared with those of Schwitz in the 
dangers of all the long wars sustained by 
the canton, without having partaken with 
them in the benefits of their numerous 
conquests ; 

" 4. That the country at length having 
respectfully, on April 18, 1792, addressed 
the council of Schwitz for a diminution of 
the burthens under which it laboured, and 
which were continually augmenting, was 
repulsed in an improper manner; 

" Have determined, that the strictest 
justice requires that ihe country of la 
Marche should enjoy full and entire li- 
berty, should be freed from its dependence 
upon the canton of Schwitz, and be per- 
mitted to govern itself; and the said peo- 
ple has resolved to make a formal demand 
to this effect, promising upon this condi- 
tion to take up arms, for the defence of li- 
berty, of their country, and holy religion *." 

* This address was prepared at thev town-hall of La-, 
pheh on the 10th of February 1798 by the ordinary 


This new language excited the indigna- 
tion of the people of Schwitz, and threw 
them into great perplexity. It was no 
longer a time for the sovereign to assert 
his rights by force ; and the methods of 
prudence and persuasion which it was ne- 
cessary to employ promised no great suc- 
cess. The council of Schwitz, however, 
published a proclamation conceived nearly 
in the following terms : 

" You well know, dear and faithful sub- 
jects, that our first cares have always been 
to secure your happiness with our own. 
From time immemorial you have, with us, 
enjoyed the fruits of our paternal atten- 
tion; and while the scourge of war afflicted 
the circumjacent countries, you have been 
indebted to our indefatigable zeal for the 
preservation of peace and tranquillity. 

" Arrived at length at this period, in 
which dangers from without and from 
within menace even our happy country, 
a period in which the necessity of union is 
more than ever apparent in order to pre- 

commission and the council of war united, and unani^ 
mously accepted the next day by the general assembly 
and by all the magistrates of la Marche, 


serve us from imminent misfortune, we 
have been tenderly affected and penetrated 
with gratitude at the conduct of those of 
our subjects, who, without yielding to a 
seduction now become almost general, 
have approved their obedience and fide- 
lity to their country and its government in 
a manner which ought to erve as an ex- 
ample to all the rest. 

" Yet those of our dependents, who, 
animated with a different spirit, have ma^ 
nife.sted desires justified perhaps by the 
force of circumstances, shall not be less 
the objects of our paternal affection ; and 
w^e promise without delay to occupy our* 
selves with the means of recompensing the 
attachment and fidelity of the former, and 
of satisfying the moderate demands of the 
latter, by all concessions compatible with 
the general welfare. We sjialj constantly 
make it our object to augment their hap-? 
pin ess, and Attach them to us by still 
stronger bonds*." 

The proclamation closed with threats 
against the promoters of revolt, and the 

* Proclamation of Schwitz, February 13th, 


.x. ^ 

disturbers of the public tranquillit3 r . It 
was published in the churches of Ein- 
siedlen r Kusnacht, Pfaeffikon, and Woll- 
rau, and posted up in the usual places. 

But the country of la Marche suffered 
itself to be moved neither by hope nor 
fear. Times were changed ; and what, a 
few days before, would have been received 
as a favour, was now regarded as a due. 
Menaces no longer inspired terror, nor 
promises confidence, and both failed of 
their effect. In circumstances of such dif- 
ficulty, the wiles of policy are swept away 
by the torrent of passion, which, in its 
rapid course, overthrows all the mounds 
placed to oppose it r 

The council did not stop at these mea- 
sures. It wrote to the magistrates of la 
Marche in terms of displeasure, " The 
canton of Schwitz (the^e were jts words) 
has done, with respect, to other states, 
every thing in its power to conciliate the 
governors with the governed, and quiet 
their mutual complaints; it has so power- 
fully pleaded the cause of the people, that 
almost all the aristocratic cantons have 
adopted the democratical form of govern*- 


ment: it. was even occupying itself with 
the happiness of its dependents, and seek- 
ing all means of drawing them more closely 
to itself; and this was the moment chosen 
by the people of la Marche to revolt, to 
declare themselves free and independent, 
and violently to withdraw from the autho- 
rity of their lawful sovereign*." 

The magistrates of la Marche were en- 
joined, upon their personal responsibility, 
to make known to the people this letter, 
and the proclamation accompanying it. 
This latter piece is too remarkable not to 
be worth transcribing in part. It proves 
how hard it seems, even to democratical 
governments, to renounce their power, 
and how much they are disposed, in want 
of better means, to employ artifice and 
cunning for its preservation. 

It runs thus : " How offensive soever are 
the events which have lately taken place 
among you, they are unable to change 
the sentiments of affection and pity which 
we feel towards you. Honest and virtuous 
villagers ! open your eyes and behold the 
abyss into which perfidious instigators de- 

* This letter is dated Feb. 16th. 


sire to plunge you. Make use of your 
good sense ; reflect if these vain promises 
and deceitful illusions of absolute freedom 
with which they cheat you, can ever be 
realized. Do you suppose } r ou can subsist 
and form an independent state by your-^ 
selves ? And were you for a moment to 
succeed in constituting your republic, do 
you imagine that the other states of the 
confederacy, all interested in their mutual 
protection, and in maintaining each other 
in their relative position, will consent to 
acknowledge it ? But even admitting that 
in the midst of the great change which is 
taking place among us, such a republic 
could be formed and consolidated; do you 
think, worthy villagers ! that you would 
reap much advantage from it ? Would you 
not, on the contrary, have an increase 
of taxes to pay, in order to supply the 
expense of an administration necessa^ 
rily become more costly ? Would you be 
happy underthe rule of some ambitious per* 
sons, who would oppress you so much the 
more, as you have reserved the fewer sup- 
ports against their oppressions ? Can you,; 
after these considerations, prefer the uix* 


certain futurity which awaits you, to the 
mild and peaceable lot which you have 
enjoyed under the dominion of your na- 
tural sovereign ? 

" But the formation of a free and inde- 
pendent state is not the object of your 
conductors. The honest and simple vil- 
lager is not acquainted with the plots that 
are formed against him. He does not 
know what are the mischievous projects 
of some party lead ere, who aim at entirely 
changing the political state of our coun- 
try, and giving it a form destructive of the 
faith and religion of our ancestors, and 
of our happy tranquillity. One of those 
projects has fallen into our hands. It 
points out the intention of its authors to 
be the forming of la Marche into one of 
those departments into which Switzerland 
is to be divided. Perhaps they have urged 
you to a separation from our canton, only 
to be able the more easily to unite you to 
another, and that, without caring whether 
such an union would be advantageous or 
hurtful to you. 

" One of the fundamental principles of 
this new constitution would be the abso- 


lute freedom of all religions, and of the 
philosophical principles of the day. Judge 
then for yourselves, how with such princi- 
ples the religion of your fathers could be 

l This address, though artfully composed, 
and touching upon the dearest interests 
of the people, made no impressipn upon 
those of la Marche. At this period, 
even had prophets come to lift the awful 
veil of futurity ; had they announced 
the approaching scenes of sorrow and 
calamity ; those bloody combats of the 
neighbouring powers and the barbarians 
of the north in these countries now so 
flourishing ; those villages burnt and de- 
stroyed ; those troops of children dying of 
hunger, or going to seek under a happier 
sky new parents and a hospitable roof; 
had they predicted all these in isfor tunes* 
which were too soon realized, who would 
have given credit to their. w>rds ? 

The country of la Marche thus refused 
all accommodation ; and the canton " of 
Schwitz', soon environed with perils of 
every kind, lost-all hope of ever resuming 
its dominion over this district. Jts wishes 


\vere limited to the desire of its being de- 
clared an integral part of the canton, and 
admitted to a participation in the sove- 

During these transactions, two subject 
towns also ventured to make demands, but 
of a much more moderate kind. 

One, named Wesen, in the country of 
Gaster, and situated near the lake of Wal- 
lenstadt, from the year 1438, had been a 
dependence on the cantons of Schwitz 
and Claris, to which it had been pledged 
by the count of Toggenburg, without 
having ever been redeemed. Its applica- 
tion was limited to the demand of exemp- 
tion from some incidental charges*. 

The other, Uznach, oji the borders of 
the lake of Zurich, solicited the privilege 
of governing itself, under the protection 
of the cantons of Schwitz and Claris, and 
on consideration of an annual tribute 
which it offered to pay-f-. 

But events succeeded each other with 
so much rapidity, and in so alarming a 

* Letter of Wesen to the canton of Schwitz, dated 
February 13th. 

f Letter of Uznach, of February 13th. 


manner, that it could not be determined 
how or where to negotiate with them. AH 
the countries subject to Switzerland shook 
off their chains, and advanced with steps 
more or less hasty in the career of revolu- 
tion. The people who surrounded the 
Waldstaeten set themselves in motion, and 
already were heard the cries of liberty 
raised by those who dwelt beyond the. 


Bonaparte, in consequence of his 
victories in Italy, had conquered Lorn- 
bardy, and out of it had formed the Cisal- 
pine republic, the Helvetic body sent two 
deputies to- Lugano, charged to main- 
tain a good understanding with this new 
power. These deputies, Felix Stokmann 
of Obwalden, and Boumann, at firstre- 
ceived tokens of respect and friendship 
from the ' Cisalpine directory, which had 
its seat at Milan * ; but things presently 
took another turn. 

* Relation of those deputies, February 7th 


This government, scarcely assured of its 
own existence, displayed a character ana- 
logous to the heat of the climate under 
which it existed, and the nature of the 
circumstances which had established it. 
More solicitous to make a figure than to 
be useful ; more inclined to disturb the 
repose of its neighbours by intrigue, than 
attentive to the means of consolidating its 
new constitution, it raised itself a party 
among the Italian bailiwicks, and caused 
it to be insinuated to these people that 
they ought to profit of the approaching 
fall of the Helvetic confederacy, in order 
to unite with the Cisalpine government, as 
the Valteline in the Grison country had 

The nature of this tract, separated from 
the rest of Switzerland by the loftiest 
mountains ^the poverty of its inhabitants; 
the necessity under which they lie of 
drawing their grain from Italy; and the 
parity of language; all seemed to concur in 
favouring the wishes of the Cisalpine direc- 
tory. To this was added the news of the 
approaching arrival of a body of French 
troops, the final destination of which was 


unknown, but which in the mean time 
was to form a line on the Italian frontiers 
of Switzerland, extending from the lake 
of Como to the lake Maggiore. This ap- 
proach of troops occasioned much dis- 
quiet, and caused the time to be predict- 
ed when trees of liberty would be planted 
in the towns of Lugano and Mendrisio*. 

We have already spoken of the fermen- 
tation which manifested itself in the rest 
of Switzerland, and of the revolution 
^hich had taken place at BasiL This 
canton, after having solemnly recognized 
the imprescriptible rights of man, had de- 
clared, in a letter to the canton of Zurich, 
that it for ever renounced its rights of co- 
regency over the Italian bailiwicks. 

Zurich attempted to parry the blow 
which such a declaration struck at the 
antient federative system. It particularly 
ordered its representatives at Lugano to 
guard from every kind of foreign influence 
over the affairs of that country. "As 
soon as circumstances shall require it (said 
the canton) address yourselves to the .Cis- 
alpine government, as well as to the acl- 

* Relation of the deputies, February lith. 


ininistratoi>general of the finances, Haller, 
who has made known to the Helvetic 
body, in the most afflicting manner, his 
desire of being useful to it. And since, 
in the present circumstances, rigorous 
means are out of the question, employ 
those of persuasion towards the magis- 
trates and heads of the people, in order 
to prevent all excesses and disorders ; and 
promise, in the name of the cantons, that 
all legal demands shall be granted to the 
country. In case of any extraordinary 
and urgent event, address yourself to the 
cantons of Schwitz and Unterwalden for 
instructions and succours*/' 

These orders arrived too late. The chiefs 
of the Cisalpine party had gained the peo- 
ple by their discourses, and by pamphlets 
profusely distributed. They did not, in- 
deed, wish to be united to the Cisalpine 
state ; on the contrary, the great majority, 
whilst they demanded liberty, did not de- 
sire a separation from Helvetia, and pre- 
served their national hatred against the 

* Letter of the canton of Schwitz to the deputies, 
dated February 1 5th. 



This resistance from the people only re- 
doubled the activity of the Cisalpine fac- 
tion. Some young men, endowed with an 
ardent imagination and some uncultivated 
talents, were at its head ; they were few 
in number, but daring and, enterprising. 
The enfeebled condition to which the con- 
federates were reduced, and the presence 
of the Fuench and Cisalpine troops which 
deluged the frontier, favoured their rash 
attempts. Almost under the eyes, and 
certainly with the tacit consent, of the, 
Cisalpine directory, they enrolled a body 
of idle people and banditti from the coun- 
tries of Bergamo and Brescia, clothed and 
armed them, and made use of them to 
obtain by force what they could not have 
obtained by good- will *. 

The rumour of the approach of Ita- 
lian troops soon spread on all sides. A 
courier was immediately dispatched from 
Lugano to Milan for the purpose of pre- 

* The author of this work, sent in 1800^ in quality of 
a Helvetic commissioner^ for the re-organization of the 
Italian cantons^ had every possible facility for becoming 
acquainted with the chiefs of the different parties/ and 
for acquiring even a moral conviction of the participation ' 
of the' Cisalpine directory in the events above related. 


venting hostilities : this passed on Fe- 
bruary 14th. On the 15th, at five o'clock 
in the morning, 240 foreign soldiers, who 
came over the lake of Lugano, disem- 
barked at the town, announcing their in- 
tention to force an union with the Cisal- 
pine republic. Young men of Lugano 
were at the head of this troop, which 
called itself the vanguard of a consider* 
able column. The alarm immediately be- 
came general, and the beat of the drum 
gave the signal of defence. The chiefs 
of the Helvetic party took up arms, and 
were soon joined by a good number of 
volunteers. The Cisalpines began to fire 
upon them; and a secretary sent by the 
former to the commander of the Italian 
troops to prevent the effusion of blood, 
was stopt and taken prisoner by fifteen 
Cisalpine soldiers. Others forcibly pene- 
trated into the houses of the Helvetic 
representatives, and retained them as 
hostages while the combat was passing 
under their windows. 

An hour was spent in fighting, at the end 
of which the Cisalpines were obliged to re- 
tire in the boat that brought them, leav- 


ing behind them four standards, thirty 
muskets, and those of their soldiers who 
had stood guard over the Helvetic repre- 
sentatives, and were made prisoners in 
their turn. These were sent to Polezza. 
In this affray only a single Helvetic vo- 
lunteer was killed, named Taglioretti. A 
second courier was immediately dispatch- 
ed to Milan to give an account of what 
had passed, and measures were taken for 
the further defence of the town of Lugano. 

Order seemed re-established, although 
the fermentation was far from being ap- 
peased. The representatives of the Hel- 
vetic body were evidently strangers to all 
that passed. Without influence over the 
people, without power to make the con- 
cessions which would have rendered them 
favourable, they waited for the event in a 
fearful uncertainty. 

Towards the evening of the same day, 
at the instant of sun-set, there suddenly 
appeared in the market-place a numerous 
crowd of people drawn together by the 
Cisalpines, or self-named patriots ; for the 
latter enjoyed neither cessation nor repose 
till they had accomplished their purpose. 


Presently two or three thousand armed 
men, uttering terrible cries, surrounded 
the house of the representatives. After a 
temporary tumult, there issued from this 
crowd a deputation, at the head of which 
was the advocate Pellegrini. " We de- 
mand (he exclaimed) our sacred and im- 
prescriptible rights ; the liberty of Swiss, 
after an age of slavery ! We are at length 
in a condition to govern ourselves I" 

The representatives alleged that they 
did not possess sufficient powers ; but this 
reply, instead of calming the people, ag- 
gravated their fury. They imperiously 
reiterated their demand, requiring that 
the declaration of liberty should be given 
instantly, and in writing. Then the de- 
puties, fearing the consequences of a re- 
fusal longer protracted, delivered to the 
deputation the following paper : 

" The people of Lugano having assem- 
bled near us and demanded to be free and 
independent bf Switzerland, in order that, 
in these difficult times, they might the 
better concur in the defence of the coun- 
try, we answered them that our powers 


did not extend so far, and that, conse- 
quently, we could not comply with their 
demand ; but upon their reiterated appli- 
cation we added, that neither could we 


reject it. 

" In the name and by the order of the 
Representatives of Switzerland, 

(Signed) " INFIELD, Secretary " 

Lugano_, Feb. 15, 1798. 

Scarcely had this work of compulsion 
been executed when information was re- 
ceived that 300 Cisalpines had just en- 
tered Porto, a village situated on the 
southern part of the lake of Lugano, in 
the Cisalpine territory, and that a car- 
riage loaded with muskets from Varese 
had set out for this village. This news 
was immediately followed by the arrival 
'at Lugano of two officers, one French, 
the other Cisalpine. They repaired to the 
representatives, and summoned them with- 
in two hours to assemble the people, that 
they might declare whether they chose to 
be united to Switzerland or the Cisalpine 


At the same time they delivered the fol- 
lowing note : 

To Messrs, -the Representatives of the Swiss 
Cantons, 22d Pluviose, 6th Year of, the 



" Liberty, which inflames^the hearts of 
all patriots, has penetrated into your can- 
tons. Your brethren beyond the Alps 
have in the face of mankind proclaimed 
the democratic system, for which your 
ancestors shed so much blood. Tfye sa- 
cred fire has also spread on this side the 
Alps, and the patriots of this country have 
resolved to live free, or die. You are 
therefore summoned, in the name of all 
those who ares ready to shed their blood 
for democracy, to renounce all the rights 
you pretend to possess over these baili- 
wicks, to disarm your A^olunteers r , and 
to restore liberty to this people, which of- 
fers you friendship and fraternity. Make 
your decision: if within an hour hence 
you persist in your pretensions of sove- 
reignty over this people, which has sworn 

* Most of the volunteers were partisans of Switzer- 
land, consequently determined Anti-cisalpihes. 


to be free, dread becoming the victims of 
its wrath. Spare the blood of your bre- 
thren ! but if you thirst for it, the repub- 
lican bayonets will be dyed in that of their 
" Health and friendship, if you desire it." 

(Signed) STEPHANO RIVA, Commandant. 

Boumann, faithful to his duty, did not 
suffer himself to be intimidated by the 
menaces of the young men who signed 
this address : he still alleged the limited 
extent of his powers. Yet, urged on all 
sides, he was obliged to promise to con- 
sult with his colleague Stockmann ; but the 
latter had already taken to flight. The dan* 
ger of passing mount Cenere* during the 
night alarmed him less than the cries of an 
enraged people. Boumann then asked and 
obtained a delay till the return of the 
courier whom he had sent to the minister 
Testi at Milan, 

When the flight of one of the deputies 
was made public, a guard of twelve men 

* Mount Cenere separates Lugano from Bellinzona. 


was given to the other. Mean time the 
revolution proceeded ; trees of liberty 
were planted ; a provisional government 
constituted itself, and solemnly proclaim- 
ed, that the people, with the consent of 
the Helvetic representatives, had decreed 
liberty and equality. This government at 
the same time published a general am- 

All this was the work of a single day 
(Feb. 15). The two parties, Helvetic and 
Cisalpine, stood face to face ; the blood of 
Taglioretti shed by the Luganese cried for 
vengeance. The chiefs of the Helvetic 
party, more numerous and prudent, would 
not, perhaps, have yet agreed to the re- 
volution, had they not been forced to it 
by the audacious proceedings of the Cisal- 
pines, which obliged them to strong coun- 
ter-measures. The people had been set in 
motion; and to the friends of Helvetia 
there remained no other means of preserv- 
ing the country to her, than that of giving 
way to the revolution, in order to defeat, 
in the most essential point, the projects 
pf the Cisalpines, 


The courier dispatched to Milan return- 
ed on the following day. At the instant 
he was seen to disembark, a considerable 
crowd collected about him, and accom- 
panied him to the representative. On 
every face was read the fear of being 
united to the Cisalpine state. Boumann 
publicly opened and read the letter he had 
just received. It was in the following 
terms : 

The Minister of Exterior Relations to Messrs. 
the Helvetic Representatives at Lugano. ' 
Milan, 27th Pluviose, Year 6.* 

" The executive directory, to which I 
have this day communicated your letters* 
of the 14th and 15th February, has been 
greatly surprised at the disagreeable in- 
formation they contain. It charges me to 
assure you, gentlemen, that being an ab- 
solute stranger to the troubles at Lugano, 
it has learned with a lively indignation 
the rash enterprise which certain Gisal- 
pines have engaged in upon the territory 
of a power in friendship with our new 
republic, and with which the directory 


sincerely desires to preserve a good un- 


" The Cisalpine government, in case of 
troubles in the surrounding states, will 
confine itself to measures for the security 
of its frontiers, without in any manner 
intermeddling with quarrels with which it 
has no concern. This conduct it will stea- 
dily observe. What has passed at Lugano 
is such a violation of its principles, that 
the directory charges me, gentlemen, to in- 
vite you to communicate to me the names 
and qualities of the Cisalpine individuals, 
who, in order to justify their shameful 
attack, have dared to support themselves 
by a pretended order from their govern- 
ment. In the mean time, the directory 
will take the most prompt and efficacious 
measures to prevent any armed force in 
future from passing beyond the territory 
of the republic ; to discover the guilty, 
and to cause them to be punished in an 
exemplary manner. 

" I have the pleasure, gentlemen, to 
send back }^our last courier with this an- 
swer, which will apprise you of the inten- 
tions of my government with regard to 


yours, and will enable you to communi- 
cate them to your high principals. 

(Signed) " TE*TI." 

The contents of this letter, of which co- 
pies were instantly taken, caused a satis- 
faction comparable only to the hatred 
which the people felt against the Cisal- 
pines who were authors of the preceding 
day of tumult. They demanded with loud 
cries that the French officer, and the Cis- 
alpine named Palasio, who had command- 
ed at the attack, should be delivered up 
to them. Boumann, in order to shelter 
them from the fury of the people, insi- 
nuated to the irritated crowd, that the 
maltreatment of a French officer, who 
had, besides, taken no part in the late 
hostilities, might bring the greatest evils 
upon the country. He difficultly obtain- 
ed the liberation of this officer, and gave 
him an escort to his boat. Palasio escaped 
death solely through the management of 
the representative, in giving him provi- 
sionally his lodgings for a prison. 

The dignity of the Swiss nation would 
not permit Boumann to remain in a conn- 


try where the authority of thex^antons and 
of their representatives was disallowed. 
His presence could only add to the dis- 
grace of the downfall of the confederacy, 
and in no respect could prevent it. He 
departed, leaving behind him all the coun- 
try between Lombardy and mount Cenere 
in a state of complete insurrection. 

Tine people of Mendrisio had, on Fe- 
bruary loth, imitated the example of 
those of Lugano, by planting a tree of 
Helvetic liberty; and on the 20th they 
swore, in the open air, in the face of hea- 
ven, to remain united to Switzerland, and 
to maintain the catholic religion. The 
supreme power had been delegated to a 
committee of provisional government, 
charged to negotiate with the Cisalpine, 
and the small republics which were suc- 
cessively formed out of the different Ita- 
lian bailiwicks ; for each of these baili- 
wicks considered itself as a free state, 
independent of its neighbours^ and treated 
with them as from one potentate to an- 

It is to be remarked, that neither the 


people, nor those who directed their 
movements, wished for the formation of 
a single republic, of which the country to 
which they belonged would have made 
only a small and insignificant portion. 
The Alpine tribes seem to have inherited, 
with the mountains which separate them 
from each other, a disposition to federa- 
lism, which it is very difficult to destroy. 
Each citizen, proud of the soil -which gave 
him birth, sees his country only in his own 
district, and has no ambition to partici- 
pate in the government of another. Habi- 
tuated to a certain routine and -a certain 
number of ideas, he cannot look beyond 
them. The greater part of the Swiss coun- 
tries embraced the revolution which de- 
stroyed the Helvetic league, only in the 
hope that the same revolution would sup- 
ply them with the means of erecting them- 
selves into little 'separate and indepen- 
dent republics. It is not then surprising 
that at the termination of the general con- 
fusion, seeing themselves further than ever 
from their object, they should have op- 
posed with all their might the in trod uc- 

tion of the plan of government laid down 
for them. 

At Mendrisio, as w r ell as in the other 
Italian bailiwicks, men's minds were di- 
vided between the Cisalpine and Helvetian 
states. On February 22d John Baptist 
Quadri of Lugano, Felician Pasta of Men- 
drisio, and Biondi of Blenio, appeared 
before the committee of government, call- 
ing themselves patriots, or of the Cisalpine 
party, who, after the check at Lugano, 
had retired near the lake of Compione. 
They demanded that a deputation should 
be sent on the part of Mendrisio to the 
directory at Milan, in order to solicit an 
union w.ith this new republic. " You are 
already (said they) united with it by the 
same idiom, the same soil, and the same 
interests, whilst you are for ever separated 
from Helvetia by arid and almost impass- 
able rocks ; by the recollection of the 
evils its proconsuls have unworthily in- 
flicted upon you ; by your interests, your 
manners, your laws, your religion, and 
your language/' They sent to the com- 
mittee an address terminating in these 
words : " Remember that the Cisalpine 


country gives you bread, while Helvetia 
can only furnish you with stones*/' 

The committee replied, that the people 
alone, united in a general assembly, could 
pronounce upon an object of such im- 
portance, and that it should be convoked 
for this purpose within three days. The 
deputies, foreseeing that their mission 
would have the same fate here as at Lu- 
gano, hastened to report to their party the 
answer they had received ; and some hours 
afterwards they re-appeared at the head of 
their people, drums beating and colours 
flying. When arrived at the market-place, 
they immediately encircled the tree of li- 
berty. One of them, swarming up it, took 
off the hat of William Tell, and placed in 
its stead the Cisalpine cap. The mob took 
the hat, tore it in pieces, and threw them 
into a pond; and during all this tumult, 
the chiefs took care to distribute Cisalpine 
cockades in profusion ; and proclamations 
announced their union to this republic. 

But on the next day the tocsin was 
heard through the whole country. The 

* This address, rendered into Italian, is deposited in 
the archives of Mendrisio. 


Communities of Stabio, Ligornetto, 
Genestre had taken up arms to revenge 
the affront offered to the Helvetic ensigns* 
Battle was joined in Mendrisio; but a 
destructive fire from the windows of the 
houses obliged the assailants to retire, 
leaving behind them their killed and 
wounded. The troop of Cisalpines, in- 
toxicated with their success, laid the 
whole country under contribution. Tli6 
committee, who had no succours to expect 
from Helvetia, and who dreaded the re- 
sentment of France and the Cisalpines, 
saw no other means of preserving the com- 
" munities fron these vexations, than to ex- 
hort them to consent to the required union. 
A courier was therefore sent to Milan, 
charged with presenting this request, and 
especially with imploring support against 
the excesses of the self*called patriots. 

The result of this step was the sending 
of Cisalpine troops to Mendrisio ; but be- 
fore their arrival the Luganese had armed 
themselves, attacked the Cisalpine party, 
defeated them near the village of Cavali, 
and pursued them beyond Mendrisio. En* 
tering that town, they took their revenge 


tipon the tree of Cisalpine liberty, and 
threw some of the factious into prison. 
While they were engaged in this expedi- 
tion, the Milanese troops arrived in the 
evening of March 4th ; upon which, the 
men of Lugano were obliged to retire to 
their own territory, after having had a 
conference with the commander of those 
troops. The Cisalpine tree was again 
planted at Mendrisio, and all those who 
had been arrested were set at liberty. 

The Luganese, however, would not re- 
main contented with what they had done. 
They loudly complained to general Ber- 
thier, who, moved by their representations, 
sent one of his officers, general Chevalier, 
to sound the real intentions of the people. 
When Berthier was succeeded by general 
Brune in the command of the army of 
Italy, Lugano addressed itself to him also, 
and represented to him the regret of the 
Italian bailiwicks at being separatee! 
from the mother-country* The general, 
at length convinced of the justice of their 
complaint, and of the intrigues which had 
taken place, ordered a convocation of all 
the communities, and left them freely to 


express their wishes for or against the Cis- 
alpine union, The fate of the bailiwicks 
was Soon decided: all the people by ac- 
clamation demanded to continue united 
to Switzerland, and the Cisalpine troops 
evacuated the country* 


MEANWHILE, confusion and disctird had 
in a few days spread over the whole of 
Switzerlandi The Pays de Vaud on Fe- 
bruary 15th had accepted the plan of the 
new constitution The communities of 
Toggenburg and Thurgovia, those of the 
canton of Schaff housen* of Rheinthal* of 
Werdenberg, and of Sargans, had de- 
manded liberty and independence. The 
governments of Lucerne, Zurich, Schaff- 
housen, Berne, and Soleure, yielding to 
the force of circumstances, had recognised 
the rights of man, proclaimed th sove* 
feignty of the people, and declared them- 
selves provisionary governments, till a new 
order of things should be introduced. The 

H 2 


regeneration of Helvetia drew nigh ; and a 
French army prepared to accelerate the 
downfall of the antient edifice. 

It was now only that the chiefs of the 
small cantons were convinced of the ne- 
cessity of giving independence to all their 
subjects. They found it was indispensable 
to concentrate all their force to resist the 
common enemy; and this could not be ef- 
fected without satisfying the desires of the 
dependent districts, who were entirely 
bent upon becoming integral parts of the 
state. This sacrifice, which circumstances 
had rendereds light, was then unanimous- 
ly resolved upon. 

In consequence, the people of Schwitz, 
convoked in general assembly on February 
18th, deliberated upon the demand of 
those under immediate jurisdiction* . Much 
eloquence was not wanted to persuade 
them. Four thousand men voted by ac- 
clamation the liberty of three thousand 
dependents, and granted them participa- 

* By this title are understood the villages and hamlets 
on the borders of the lake of Zurich, the abbey of our 
Lady of the Hermits, or the country of Einsiedlen, and 
the individuals whom we have designated under the name 
of inhabitants of the canton. 


tion in the rights of sovereignty*. All 
hearts were melted, and all were happy. 
Some hopes were also given to the coun- 
tries of Gaster and Uznach. A com- 
mittee was appointed to negotiate with 
the canton of Claris the renunciation of 
the rights exercised over them. La Marche 
alone was forgotten, and treated with pro- 
found indifference. 

But a courier from Uri disturbed the 
tranquillity of this family festival, by the 
news he brought of the disturbances in 
the bailiwick of Bellinzona. The bailiff 
Bizener was in great danger; and foreign 
troops must by this time have taken pos- 
session of the chief town and its environs. 
This invasion alarmed the canton of Uri, 
and spread terror and agitation all around. 
The people, for their own defence, wished 
to recall the troops the canton had sent to 
the aid of Berne, and communicated to 
Schwitz their complaints and apprehen^ 

At this recital* consternation and silence 

* An act of this event was drawn up on the following 
day, February 19^ of which all the cantons were officially 


reigned through the assembly ; but, in a 
short time, by an unanimous vote they 
gave proof of the interest inspired by the 
fate of their most antient allies, and of the 
confederacy, It was resolved to request 
Uri not to recall its troops from Berne, in 
order that a dangerous example might not 
be given to the other cantons; and a pro- 
mise was made of sending to its succour 
the second battalion destined for Berne, 
and which was to be commanded by lieu- 
tenant-colonel Aloys Ab-Iberg, who was 
besides invested with the dignity of repre-* 
sentative of the canton. 

The courier was sent back with this an^ 
swer, containing a resolution equally ge-* 
nerous and prudent. 



THE revolution had made a rapid pro- 
gress in the Pays de Vaud : its new con- 
stitution was in action ; the Bernese pro- 
perty had been sequestered, and the com- 
munities of the French part of the canton 
of Friburg prepared to follow the example 
of their neighbours. 

Friburg, the chief town of the canton, 
without the means of defence, and me- 
naced by a French army which was only 
two leagues from its w r alls, implored the 
aid of its neighbours. Berne sent it two 
members of the council of war, the tribune 
Wyss of Zurich, and the counsellor Muller 
of Uri, directed to concert the measures 
proper to be taken. 

That radical vice of the federative con^ 
stitution, the want of union in aims and 
efforts, continued to " be painfully felt. 
Each canton waited till it was compelled 
by the circumstances of the moment, to 
do what it ought voluntarily to have put in 
execution at the very instant of the danger 


of its neighbours : each of them calculated 
only for itself, and acted apart from the 
rest, without considering whether this or 
that measure could enter into a general 
and well-arranged plan. 

The dependents of the bailiwicks of 
Baden, lower and upper, gave assur- 
ances of fidelity and submission to their 
sovereign, and were in consequence in- 
vited to take up arms for the common de- 
fence. The county of Sargans also offered 
to fight for the country, but on the condi- 
tion of being recognised a free and in de- 
pendent state, and being aggregated to the 
alliance of the eight antient cantons, 

At this period there was therefore no 
part of Switzerland which had not taken 
up arms on one side or the other, or which 
had not asked or offered succour against 
pommon enemy, except the canton of 
Valais, Schwitz expressed to Berne its 
surprise at this exception : SQ essential $ 
meruber of the Helvetic confederacy ought 
not, it thought, to remain an idle spectator, 
pf the general calamity*, 

* Letter from the canton of Schwitz to that of Berno, 
February 26th. 


The danger still approached more 
nearly, and was likely soon to be at its 
height. The Bernese magistrates clearly 
perceived the speedy destruction of the 
league, and yet, with incredible pertina- 
city, persisted in the dangerous course 
they had adopted. Intrigue was their sole 
and last hope : from it they expected the 
means of preserving the direction of the 
vessel of the state, assailed on all sides by 
so violent a tempest. 

Lucerne, whose rulers, more wise and 
prudent, had voluntarily abdicated the 
sovereign power, gave a second time to the 
city of Berne the only counsel which could 
restore peace to Helvetia. Its provisional 
government at the same time announced 
to the cantons of the Waldstaeten, that 
the troops of Lucerne were not destined to 
take the least part, directly or indirectly, 
in the disputes concerning the support of 
the aristocratical governments; but that 
they, as well as all the inhabitants of the 
canton, would fight with all their power, 
and exert the greatest energy, were a fo- 
reign enemy to threaten the integrity, the 
liberty, or the independence of the coun- 


try: that, in consequence, orders had beei* 
given to the commander of the armed 
force, to station his troops at Langenthal 
and other points of the line, till they had 
learned on what conditions it was possible 
to preserve peace with the French re- 

Lucerne, in this letter, gave a complete 
enunciation of its sentiments concerning 
the existing circumstances. " We are per- 
suaded (said the magistrates of this canton) 
that the Swiss nation in general will never 
be unanimously induced to the defence of 
the states menaced by foreign aggression, 
till the aristocratical governments shall 
have adopted the democratical S3 r stein> 
and shall have given security that it is not 
for the maintenance of partial privileges 
and prerogatives, but for the preservation 
of the persons and properties, the liberty 
and country, of all, that they are summon- 
ed to the field. 

" We conjure you (they proceeded) irx 
the n^me. of our country, to make before 
all the states of the Helvetic league a de- 
claration similar to ours, that those whom 
it concerns, moved by our observations, 


may yield to the force of circumstances, 
and, hy a reform now become necessary, 
take from our enemies every plausible pre- 
text to attack us. For, till this be done, 
the people and their governors, separated 
in interests and opinions, will be incapable 
of uniting upon any point; and the coun- 
try, torn by internal dissensions, will re- 
main defenceless, and become the prey of 

It was all in vain : the magistrates of 
Berne remained inflexible. General Erlach 
received full and unlimited power to make 
every hostile disposition that he might 
judge necessary, and to commence the at- 
tack, if, at the expiration of the armistice 
on the 2d of March, the French should not 
have evacuated the Pays de Vaud and 
the valley of St. Imer. Frisching, and 
Tscharner, who had been sent on January 
27th to Pay erne, in order to negotiate with 
general Brune, received directions also to 
demand this evacuation, as a previous and 
necessary condition to all accommodation. 

Such was the spirit of the Bernese coun- 
il. Several representatives of the confe-^ 
were much displeased that 


of its own motion, and without the least 
consultation with the rest, should have 
taken a resolution so important, and so 
nearly connected with the future fate of 
all Helvetia, It is well known what was 
the result of the negotiations begun at 
Payerne between general Brune and the 
Bernese deputies. Hostilities commenced : 
Soleure and Friburg fell under the power 
of the French; and Schawenburg, after 
his victory at Soleure, advanced with hasty 
steps towards Berne, 

The disorder which reigned among the 
Swiss troops was such, that they appeared 
beaten before they had fought. The chiefs 
had no consistent instructions; the sol- 
diers were divided in sentiment; they 
knew neither where nor why they were to 


In order to give an idea of this war, and 
of the manner in which it was carried on, 
we shall here exactly copy the narration 
which has been made to us by an ocular 
witness, who, during this short campaign, 
served in one of the battalions furnished by 
the canton of Schwitz. It is only by the 
assemblage of similar materials that it i& 


possible to trace a sketch of the confusion 
which accompanied the military operations 
of the troops of the different cantons. 


THE person above mentioned expresses 
himself as follows : 

" On the 2d of March, our commander, 
Aloys Reding, was required by colonel 
Graffenried to inarch his corps with all 
speed to the height of Oberveil near 
Buren, where we were informed that we 
should find the troops of Claris and Uri. 
We began our march half an hour after 
receiving the order ; but scarcely were we 
on the road when we met not only a num- 
ber of baggage and ammunition waggons, 
which were retiring, but a great many fu-* 
gitives of the Bernese troops, who, in their 
rage against their officers, swore terribly, 
talked at random, and only agreed with 
one another in saying that they were sold 
and betrayed. Our officers in vain at- 
tempted to rally them, an<J to obtain their 


company to our post of Oberveil ; they 
continued their flight in great disorder. 

" We arrived towards evening at Ober- 
veil. Most of the inhabitants had fled, 
carrying their effects along with them. 
They who remained acquainted us that 
we had nothing to do but retire, for it was 
not their intention to defend themselves 
against the French. 

" Mean time, the aide-de-camp Auf der 
Maur, whom our commander had sent to 
Buren to receive orders, returned to in- 
form us, that for the present Graffenried 
could give us no positive instructions ; but 
that, if any thing important should hap- 
pen, we should be immediately apprised 
of it. He assured us that he had every 
where seen the greatest disorder in the Ber- 
nese army, amounting almost to a total 
dissolution ; and that he had not met with 
the smallest vestiges of the troops of Cla- 
ris and Uri. 

" This news was calculated to change 
the joy and satisfaction of our men into 
sorrow. A sudden murmur was heard in 
the ranks; the soldiers surrounded their 
officers, crying, c Let us return home j whj 


should we take upon ourselves the defence 
of a country, the inhabitants of which are 
either at war with each other, or, through 
their unwillingness to fight, throw out 
suspicions against their chiefs !' 

" This unpleasant disposition increased. 
We were alone ; the succours of Uri and 
Claris did not arrive ; we had neither sup- 
port nor instructions. Our captains con- 
sulted together, and, reflecting upon the 
positive order of pur general assembly to 
bring back the troops in case the Bernese 
should refuse to defend themselves, or- 
dered a retreat towards Bouchsee. It 
took place that very night. 

" Lucerne, mean time, had taken the 
resolution of advancing its troops, and 
opposing them to the French. The ad- 
vices received in this canton of the exces- 
sive demands of Brune, and of hostilities 
already begun in several points, had de- 
termined the representatives to this vigo- 
rous measure. They felt that a firm and 
assured countenance was become neces- 
sary. They, doubtless, blamed the un- 
yielding haughtiness of the Bernese, who 
would not make a sacrifice for the good 


of (tie country : but things being come to 
this point, national honour and the terms 
of alliance made it their duty to fly to the 
aid of their neighbours, without longer ex- 
amining whether their preceding conduct 
had been right or wrong. 

" They ordered colonel Mohr, who was 
posted with his corps at the Langenthal, 
to advance immediately to that point of 
the canton of Berne at which his presence 
might be necessary. They added to this 
order expressions flattering to the troops 
of Lucerne. 4 We are persuaded (said they) 
that you will know how to imitate the ex- 
ample of our ancestors to conquer or 
die for your country/ ' 

Scarcely was this dispatch, meant to be 
read to the soldiery, sent off, than one 
arrived from colonel Mohr, dated at St. 
Urbain, March 2d, unfolding the melan- 
choly state of affairs. " The disorder (he 
wrote) is at its height, all are flying. We 
are at St. Urbain, Pfaffnau, Rotwyl, Alt- 
buren, and Grosdietwyl. The troops of 
Unterwalden and Zug have joined us, and 
at this moment 500 Bernese arrive, who 
Have been engaged since two o'clock in 


the morning, and are spent with fatigue. 
We have lodged them iri the neighbour- 

o o 

ing barns. We send out extraordinary pa- 
troles, because we are ignorant what may 
happen during the night. I request of 
you with all possible speed to let me re- 
ceive your orders respecting my future 

The government of Luceftie without lie^ 
sitation renewed its former orders, and 
added to them, that even upon the sup- 
position of the total defeat of the Bernese 
troops, a requisition should be made of 
those of the other cantons within reach, 
and a new line of defence formed with 
them, which should be reinforced by the 
Landsturm, or general levy of the country, 
which had already been ordered. It further 
announced a second requisition made to 
all the states of Switzeriandfor sending re* 

We shall now resume the narration of 
the ocular witness, who will more exact- 
ly instruct us with respect to the real state 
of things. 

" A few hours after the entrance of our 
troops into Bouchsee, we saw general Er- 


lach arrive, accompanied by his staff, and 
the relics of several Bernese battalions, 
which had received orders from govern- 
ment to abandon their first line of defence. 
We were rejoiced to see at length compa- 
nions in arms, with whom we promised 
ourselves a valiant resistance. On a sudden, 
on March the Sd, at noon, there was a cry 
to arms : it was reported that the French 
were at Schupfen, a village at about a 
league's distance from our position. Our 
commander, Aloys Reding, had already 
once been to desire orders from general 
Erlach; but the latter, worn out by fa- 
tigue, was reposing, and could not be 
seen. He had then recourse to colonel 
Graffenried, who said to him, C I can give 
you no instructions, not yet knowing my- 
self what I am to do ; but let us see what 
are your intentions ?' ' To make a junction 
with the troops of Claris and Uri which 
are at Berne/ replied Reding. 

" In fact, we departed for Berne. Dur- 
ing the march we beheld on all sides, to 
the right and left, the country covered 
with Bernese fugitives, who were making 
haste to regain th.eir homes. When arrived 


as far as the paper-mill, our commander 
made us file off to the left along the road 


to Worb, and went himself to Berne to 
acquaint the council of war that he should 
not enter the city with his corps, since the 
place was not in a state of defence. He 
demanded, on the contrary, that the troops 
of Uri and Claris should come and join us 
near Worb. 

" The members of our council of war 
came to us during the night, and approved 
the resolution of Reding, who, on the next 
day, returned to Berne to concert mea- 
sures with the commanders of Claris and 
Uri. He found them coming out of the 
town-house, where they had been demand- 
ing of the Bernese government, in a note 
containing their reasons, their consent to 
retreat. Aloys Reding not only approved 
this note, but, accompanied by counsellor 
Muller of Uri, immediately proceeded to 
the town-house, and gave to the govern- 
ment, in a few words, a faithful report of 
the real state of things. " Disorder (said 
" he) paralyses every effort. The disunion 
of the people ; their want of confidence in 
the civil and military authorities; the Ian- 



le guage of the fugitives whom I met with 

" yesterday on my whole march ; and the 

" conviction of the absolute impossibility 

" of repelling the enemy in the midst of 

" such circumstances ; . have altogether 

" made such an impression on our troops, 

" that it has been with the greatest diffi- 

" culty that we have hitherto prevented 

" their revolt. This disposition must ne- 

" cessarily soon spread to the other auxi- 

" liary corps. And how has it happened, 

" that in these days of peril the contin- 

" gents of three other cantons are not here, 

" but keep at a distance on the limits of 

" the canton of Lucerne ? I have received 

" orders from my sovereign not to sa- 

" crifice my people uselessly : it is there- 

" fore necessary that I execute my retreat 

" to Worb, and make a junction with the 

" troops of Saint Gall, Uri, and Claris." 

" We quitted Berne a few hours after- 
wards. On the next day, at four in the 
morning^ a Bernese officer brought us a 
requisitory from -his government to march 
in haste towards the Gratieholtz, The 
menibers of the council of war and the 
commanders of Uri ? Schwitx, Claris, and 


Saint Gall, assembled to deliberate upon 
this order. The result of the conference 
was, that it should not be obeyed. We 
knew neither the position of the enemy 
nor that of the Bernese ; but we knew 
that the French were advancing in consi- 
derable force towards all those points, 
finding scarcely any resistance, and that 
the city of Berne was already making dis- 
positions to surrender. 

" These events induced us to continue V 
our retreat. After a march of about two 
hours, we were joined v by some of our 
officers, whom we had left behind for the 
purpose of obtaining information after our 
departure. They brought us intelligence 
of the success of the Bernese at Neue- 
negg under the command of Graffenried. 
The government of Berne again conjured 
lis to stay. We acquainted our soldiers 
with this news, which revived their cou- 
rage and enthusiasm : they demanded with 
loud cries to be led to the enemy, and 
swore that they would sacrifice themselves 
to the last man, A^ere there the least re- 
maining hope of saving Berne and resisting 
the French. We then marched back again* 


" Within less than an hour and quarter 
we were at Worb ; but on arriving there, 
all our hopes were destroyed, for Berne 
had fallen into the hands of the enemy. 
Nothing therefore remained for us but to 
quit Worb a second time, and return to 
our own country. We departed/'. 


THE Waldstaeten, mean time, were igno* 
rant of what had passed, and had no sus- 
picion of the capture of Berne. Vague 
rumours of battles lost, and unsuccessful 
engagements, had, indeed, arrived from 
time to time among the mountains, but 
the inhabitants had not been discouraged 
by them. The general assemblies of Uri 
and Unterwalden had taken place ; orders 
had been given for sending troops to the 
succour of Berne ; and the greatest pre-, 
parations were making for the defence of 
the country itself. 

The general assembly of Schwitz on the 
4th of March took the same measures. A 


hundred and fifty chasseurs, commanded 
by captain Hediger, and a battalion at 
the head of which was Aloys Gwercler, re- 
ceived orders to march to Lucerne, and 
to be disposed of wherever necessity might 
require. The general levy was ordered. 
All strangers who refused to concur in the 
public defence were obliged to quit the 
country. Corporal punishments were de- 
creed against those who should spread 
false alarms. The general assembl} 7 caused 
all its former subjects, and especially those 
of the country of Marche, to be summon- 
ed to declare whether they would or would 
not unite themselves to the Waldstaeten, 
and contribute to the measures of defence. 
The council of war, which was supposed 
to be still at Berne, was enjoined every 
where to publish that the canton of 
Schwitz would treat as enemies all those 
who should favour the French, or afford 
them assistance. 

Such were the unanimous dispositions 
of , the people of this canton. Fear, hope, 
anger, pride, and all the passions which 
usually precede political storms, and pre- 
pare the way for brilliant and vigorous 


enterprises, here exerted their influence. 
Everywhere, in the plains and valleys, an 
unexampled activity prevailed. The most 
contradictory reports, the falsest supposi- 
tions, circulated with astonishing rapidity, 
and threw the whole country into com* 

Extremely alarming accounts arrived 
one upon another, On one side the Wald- 
staeten learned that Soleure and Friburg 
were upon the point of yielding: on the 
other. Lucerne acquainted them that the 
enemy had attacked Hutwyl and Ar- 
wangen, and that their general levy had 
been sent to oppose them, " Make haste 
'(said the canton) to come to our assistance ; 
ctlerity and great efforts alone can save 


i, Unterwalden, Zug, apd Schwitz, 
did not delay. They resolved to send the 
speediest succours. Uri on the same day 
summoned the canton of Schwitz to makp 
a last effort to recall the inhabitants of 1^ 
M^rche to their duty, and promised, in 
case of failure, to make common cause 
with it in subduing the rebels, 
r |he inoro the general danger 


eel, the more pressing the subject countries 
became in their demands upon the states 
of whom they were dependents. Thurgovia 
and the Rheinthal were in the same case, 
and made warm solicitations. The depu- 
ties at the diet of A ran, still hoping that 
the chance of war would be favourable to 
aristocracy, had hitherto eluded them with 
much dexterity; but when they saw that 
all was at hazard, they ceased to resist, 
and aggregated these countries to the Hel- 
vetic confederacy. 

The inhabitants of Gaster expected their 
liberation with equal impatience. The 
sovereign cantons had sent thither depu- 
ties, who negotiated to this purpose with 
the popular committees; but the latter, 
dissatisfied with the delays of the negotia- 
tion, began to suspect chicanery, and a 
premeditated design of eluding their de- 
mands. The populace collected, and men 
armed with clubs and stakes, on the 5th of 
March, forcibly entered the convent of 
Schaenis, where the deputies were at table 
with the ladies of the chapter. Terrified by 
this violence, they immediately granted 
full and entire liberty, with the simple re- 


servation of the ratification of the cantons 
of "Schwitz and Uri, whose mandataries 
they were. 

The council of Schwitz was then con- 
strained to bend to the imperious law of 
the strongest. On the succeeding day 
they solemnly recognised the independ- 
ence of the countries of Gaster, Uznaeh, 
and Weseny and remitted to the former 
the deed of mortgage which they possessed 
against it. All these concessions were 
clogged with no other conditions than that 
the liberated countries should oblige them- 
seh r es to maintain the antient religion, to 
respect the properties of the chapter, to 
exact among themselves no transit duties 
upon merchandize going from one country 
to another, and not to be mutually bur^ 
thensome in case of foreign war. 

It was not till after all these events that 
the terrible news of the fall of Berne was 
known in the Waldstaeten. It then ap- 
peared that the danger was approaching 
irresistibly. The lower part of the canton 
of Unterwalden deliberated whether it 
would not be better to recall to the defence 
of the country the troops sent to Berne, 


than to leave them at the disposal of the 
states nearest to the enemy. Schwitz de- 
cided in the negative. 

Lucerne wrote to the Waldstaeten, that 
in the uncertainty whether the French 
would attack that canton also, it had taken 
all the measures for defence, by means of 
a general levy ; and it conjured them, un- 
til the danger should have disappeared, 
to leave their contingent upon the border 
of the canton, to form a second line of de- 
fence. The council of Schwitz was of 
opinion that it ought to do still more. It 
gave orders to two battalions newly de- 
stined for Berne, immediately to advance 
to Lucerne. It caused these troops to be 
accompanied by several deputies, charged 
with scrutinizing the dispositions of the 
people of Lucerne, and discovering whe- 
ther they were firmly resolved to conquer 
or die for their country. Uri and Unter- 
walden likewise sent troops and deputies 
with the same instructions; for the Wald- 
staeten, determined to oppose the most 
vigorous resistance to the enemy, refused 
to partake the dangers of their neighbours, 
further than they were assured of a pn> 
portional resolution on their parts. 


With respect to the upper part of 
canton of Unterwalden, it could not send 
a second contingent to Lucerne, having 
occasion for all the troops which it could 
inuster, for its own security. Certain in- 
formation was received that the French 
had already penetrated as far as 
Instead of being able to give succour, this 
country was obliged itself to require aid 
of its neighbours. 

The government of Zurich, still at va- 
riance with its people, who demanded li- 
berty, also addressed the small cantons* 
A national assembly had been formed at 
Meila, a village situated upon the lake of 
Zurich, and under th$ eyes of the ruling 
city. This assembly held the language of 
authority, and arrogated to itself the sove- 
reign power. The governors of Zurich re-* 
quired of the .Waldstaeten to send troops 
upon the frontiers of their canton, in order 
to prevent a civil war ; and to send depu^ 
ties into the city itself for the purpose of 
consulting with them on the measures to 
be taken in the-, present crisis. 

How desirous soever the people of these 
cantons might be to be useful to all their 
neighbours, they could not accede to 


demand. The canton of Schwitz even 
thought it a part of prudence to terminate 
amicably its own dispute with the inhabi- 
tants of la Marche, who continued in the 
resolution to obtain a solemn declaration 
of their liberty. An act of perpetual re- 
nunciation of all the rights which this can- 
ton had exercised over the country and 
its inhabitants was decreed on the 8th of 
March. Two deputies of Schwitz were 
commissioned to carry them this instru- 
ment, and had directions to solicit them in 
suitable terms to permit the union of the 
two countries, in order to consolidate their 
mutual prosperity by the bonds of> friend- 

Never would the subject countries of 
Helvetia have sought to throw off the yoke, 
without the concurrence of events as ex- 
traordinary as they were numerous and 
unexpected. A long .and bloody civil 
war might finally have ruined Switzerland, 
and have delivered it defenceless to the 
dominion of foreign powers ; but the union 
of all the causes which brought on its as- 
tonishing revolution was necessary to in- 
duce its governors voluntarily, at -least in 


appearance, to desist from those powers 
and prerogatives, which they regarded 
as a lawful patrimony and a hereditary 
apanage, that could not be contested 

Meantime, while the Waldstaeten, after 
having fraternised their former subjects, 
were preparing for a vigorous defence, 
they unexpectedly learned that France did 
not mean to act hostilely against them, 
or against the other cantons. General 
Brune had positively assured the deputies 
of Lucerne, as well in writing as by word 
of mouth, that he had no orders to pass 
the territories of the cantons of Friburg, 
Berne and Soleure. The minister Talley- 
rand had written to the same purpose in 
the name of the French directory ; and in 
his letter he felicitated the canton of Lu- 
cerne on its spontaneous revolution, effect- 
ed on the 31st of January. These happy 
tidings had been immediately published in 
the town by sound of trumpet, amidst the 
acclamations of the inhabitants; after 
vhich, the government of the canton, dis- 
missing the auxiliaries of the Waldstaeten 
aud of the other states, expressed its grati- 


tude, and declared to them that it did not 
mean to separate its interest from theirs ; 
adding, hat although full of confidence in 
the promises of the French government, it 
would not cease to watch over the com- 
mon safety, and to take all the precautions 
which might assure it. 

The troops of the Waldstaeten then re- 
turned to their homes, but with orders to 
hold themselves ready to march at the 
first signal. This measure appeared ne- 
cessary; for, notwithstanding the sudden 
change in the face of aifairs, who could 
hope that, after events so disastrous, the 
tranquillity of Switzerland would be in- 
stantly and durably re-established? 



IT is universally acknowledged that the 
French government, notwithstanding all 
the good fortune attending the operations 
of its victorious armies, had not flattered 
itself with so easy a conquest over the 
Helvetic league. If the Swiss, more united, 
had made a proper use of the advantages 
which two victories over the French would 
have procured them, they might have at- 
tacked France on its weakest side, have 
made an useful diversion, and, perhaps,, 
have given the emperor a pretext for re- 
newing the war, and time to come to their 

The directory foresaw what might have 
happened ; for which reason, in its quarrel 
with the three cantons in the neighbour- 
hood of France, it laboured with so much 
dexterity to separate theif interests from 
those of the rest of Switzerland, This it 
was which induced it to employ all ima- 
ginable artifices to paralyse the action of 


tlie small cantons ; to be so lavish, 
here of promises, there of menaces; to 
give, one after another, to general Brune 
and its agents in Switzerland and the 
neighbouring states, orders so perplexed 
and contradictory : this, in fine, was the 
cause of the excessive joy testified by the 
directors at Paris, when they received the 
unexpected intelligence of the surrender 
of Friburg, Berne, and Soleure* They had 
not been able to conceive that they should, 
at so small an expense, conquer these last 
ramparts of liberty, and subdue men whom 
Europe had long been accustomed to rec- 
kon in the number of its bravest warriors* 
But the breach was now made ; the an- 
tient charm of the inviolability of the Hel- 
vetian territory had been destroy ed* It 
only remained to France, in the uncertainty 
of her present position with respect to the 
emperor, to finish what she had so for- 
tunately begun* The conquest of Switz^ 
erland and of the formidable barrier of the 
Alps would procure her the double ad- 
vanta~ge of covering the weak part of her 
own frontiers, and menacing the heredi- 
tary states of the emperor* All necessary 



measures were taken for attaining this 
end, which was at the same time an in- 
fraction of equity, sound policy, and the 
law of nations. Nothing could stop the 
execution of the projects formed by the 
governors of France : they reckoned as 
nothing the hatred of the Swiss, and the 
execration of all Europe, justly clue to 
their meditated perfidy. Men habituated 
to recognise no other law than that of the 
strongest, arid no other divinity than blind 
fortune, the associate of all their enter- 
prises, could not be restrained in their am- 
bitious designs by considerations of pro- 
priety and justice. They wanted nothing 
but a pretext to justify, at least in appear- 
ance, their odious attempt > and this pre- 
text was soon found in the very innocence 
of the peaceable people whose repose they 
meant to violate. 

The herdsmen who inhabited the Hel- 
vetic Alps, in the consciousness of their 
wise and prudent conduct, thought them- 
selves perfectly detached from the quar- 
?els of France. They felt, indeed, a secret 
horror for a people who had been weak 
enough to stain themselves with so many 



crimes in the name of liberty ; but tliey 
had always studiously avoided every thing 
which might draw upon themselves the 
anger of such powerful neighbours. Their 
magistrates hoped that, by standing aside, 
the storm would not reach them, but 
would spend its ravages upon the aristo- 
cratic cantons. Yet they could not shake 
off a secret inquietude on reflecting upon 
the superior strength of France, on the 
facility she would find in subduing by her 
arms the rest of Switzerland, and espe- 
cially on the very significant project of a 
general constitution for Helvetia, which 
began to circulate on all sides. 

The canton of Schwitz first came to a 
decision, and resolved, at any price, to 
ascertain its future lot. It began by abo- 
lishing even the appearance of any re- 
maining injustice with which it might be 
charged ; and for that purpose it passed a 
decree in the general assembly on the 10th 
of March, that all under its jurisdiction, 
who had not already obtained an express 
declaration of their liberty and indepen- 
dence, should henceforth enjoy them, and 


should, from the present moment, be ag- 
gregated to the title of citizens of the can- 
ton. It then convoked the cantons of Uri, 
Glaris, arid Unterwalden, to a conference 
at Brimnen, in order to concert with them 
an embassy to the French general, and to 
agree upon the ineasures of defence which 
might become necessary. The canton of 
Lucerne* and the upper part of Unter- 
waklen, had already inquired of general 
Brune if they had any thing to fear on 
the part of France. The general made the 
following answers: 

To Lucerne* 

"The great nation has not ceased to prove 
its regard for the ties which attach it to 
the canton of Lucerne. It has given no 
orders for undertaking hostilities against 
this country : the great nation, on the con- 
trary, desires to preserve its antient relations 
with the canton of Lucerne, well con- 
vinced that, through its love to liberty, it 
will always be worthy of being the coun- 
try of the descendants of William TelL 

" Berne, 20 Ventose, Year 6." 


To Unterwalden* 


"The great nation has not yet ceased to 
honour those ties which , unite it to the 
canton of Unterwalden. It therefore has 
not ordered the least hostility against this 
canton. The great nation, on the con- 
trary, desires to preserve its antient relations 
with the canton of Unterwalden," 

Berne, date as above. 

These solemn assurances from Brune 
were calculated to restore to the confede- 
rates the hope which they had almost to- 
tally lost. Nevertheless, the deputies of 
the four small cantons above named as- 
sembled at Brunnen, according to the in- 
vitation of Schwitz. That of Zug joined 
them. Schwitz proposed an address to the 
French general, which was agreed upon, 
and entrusted to a deputation to carry it 
to the head-quarters at Berne. It was ex- 
pressed in these terms : 


" The representatives of the democrati- 
cal cantons of Uri, Schwitz, Unterwalden, 


Zug, and Claris, have the honour to com- 
municate to you in the name of. their prin- 
cipals, that is, of ^ the general assemblies 
of their respective cantons, the following 
observations : 

- " None among us can believe that it is 
in the intentions or the principles of the 
French government to disturb the small 
democratical cantons in the exercise of a 
liberty, which the French nation seems to 
have had in view to give to the rest of 
Switzerland : nevertheless, citizen general, 
we cannot conceal from you, that the ap- 
proach of your troops, the uncertainty of 
their destination, and the rumours which 
circulate on this subject, have excited 
among us the liveliest disquiet. We should 
n6t be worthy of the esteem of the great 
nation, were we to attach a less value to 
the maintenance of that liberty which our 
ancestors, to whom you still assign an 
honourable place in your daily writings, 
have acquired to us by their valour and 
the effusion of their blood. 

" As a partaker and witness of the glo- 
rious efforts of your great nation, you, 
citizen general, ought better than any one 


to know what is the influence of the en- 
thusiasm of liberty upon a free and coura- 
geous people. 

" Notwithstanding all the rumours pro- 
pagated, notwithstanding all our appre- 
hensions, the confidence which it is our 
satisfaction to have in the justice of the 
French government has not for a moment 
been shaken. 

" It is this confidence which has deter- 
mined the assemblies of our people to send 
you representatives for the purpose of ob- 
taining from you, citizen general, the con- 
soling promise that the French troops 
shall not enter our territories, and the po- 
sitive declaration, that the directory has no 
intention to disturb us in the exercise of 
our religion, of our independence, of our 
liberty, and our political organization. 
This democratical organization possesses 
our love and attachment, as a good mother 
which for ages has procured our happi- 
ness. It has consecrated as its principles, 
in all their purity, the rights of man and 
the sovereignty of the people ; it is there- 
fore in perfect consonance with that adopt- 

x 00 

ed by the French republic. We have an-* 
. ticipated the sole objection which might 
have been made to us: some democratical 
cantons had subjects or dependents; they 
no longer have any. All are free as our- 
selves; and by this salutary reform of our 
organization, we have removed every thing 
which might be contrary to the principles 
of France, 

*' Deign then, citizen general, to give us 
some assurance of the friendly dispositions 
of the French directory, and to be con- 
vinced, that we desire nothing more ar- 
dently than to live in peace and good un- 
ders tan ding with the great nation, 

" Accept from an honest people of 
mountaineers, who know no other goods 
than their religion and liberty, and possess 
no other treasures than their herds and 
their industry, the sincerest promise to do 
every thing compatible with their freedom 
and independence, in order to give proof of 
their attachment to the French republic. 

*' Accept also, citizen general, the so- 
lemn promise which we make in the name 
of our cantons, never to bear arms against 


the French republic, and never to ally 
ourselves with its enemies. The necessity 
of defending our liberty can alone put 
arms into our hands. 

" May these open and sincere declara- 
tions procure to us in exchange those 
which we respectfully request of you to 
grant ! In that case, our fears and dis- 
quietudes will give place to the sentiments 
of gratitude and affection which we shall 
eternally vow to the French government, 
ftnd its worthy general. 

/ c? 

< ( Berne, 1 6th March, 1798. 

" Health and Respect, 

" The Representatives of the People of 
Uri, Schwitz, Unterwalden, Zug, and 
Claris : 

Thaddeus Schmid, landamman ~\ t 

Schmid, captain -general >of Uri. 

De Menteln, counsellor J 

Bueller, statthalter "\ 

Al-Iberg, antient statthalter 

^ ^ 77 j- rt i >of Schwitz. 

Cas telly director of the salt-works j 

Metier, deputy J 

i, landamman 


ijf , ? of Unterwalden. 

Joseph-Mary Christen 


Charles-Francis Kayser 

Francis-Joseph Andermatt 

Antony Hess < of Zug. 

Aloys Staul 

Joseph Baamgartner 

Zweifel, president *| 

Zopfe, member of the council >of Claris." 

Muller, the same J 

General 1'rune not only received these 
deputies with all the distinction due to 
their character, but gave them also an 
answer which dissipated all their fears, 
and restored them to the greatest security. 
It was as folio ws : 

BRUNE, to the Democratical Cantons 

" I assure the representatives of the de- 
mocratical cantons, that, in the events 
which have drawn the French army into 
Switzerland through the provocations of the 
oligarchs of Berne, the democratical can- 
tons have never ceased to preserve the 
friendship of the French republic, and that 
it is not among its designs to carry its 
arms into their territory. 

" Berne^ 26 Ventose, year 6." 

The Waldstaeten, upon so positive an 



assurance, gave themselves up to the agree- 
able illusion, that their danger was over, 
and thought that the operations of France 
had no other end than that of humbling 
the pride of the aristocratical govern- 
ments. Their hope was increased by the 
events passing in their neighbourhood. 
The city of Zurich, by an arrangement 
concluded at Kusnacht on March 10th, 
had at length abdicated the sovereign 
po\Yer. This circumstance was very for- 
tunate for the small cantons, especially for 
that of Schwitz; for, in case Zurich had 
been inclined to carry things to the last 
extremity, they could not have been dis- 
pensed from sending them assistance, as 
they had formally engaged to do a few 
days before*. 

* The deputies Abbeg and Balthasar Holdemcr of 
Schwitz, delegated to the country of la Marche, with 
orders to declare it free and annex it to the canton of 
Schwitz, risked on this occasion, by a step equally arbi- 
trary and imprudent, the setting of their canton essentially 
at variance with that of Zurich. They announced to 
the commissioners of la Marche, ^that Schwitz had de- 
termined to engage the town of Zurich to acquiesce in 
the demands of the people of the country, and, in case of 


The only thing which could still be an 
object of inquietude to the democratical 
cantons, was the project of a republic 
one and indivisible which was circulated 
through Switzerland. But this subject of 
alarm also vanished, when Brune'of his 
own accord announced a Rhodanic and a 
Helvetian republic, and a third under the 
name of the republic of William Tell. The 
last was to be composed of the smaller 
cantons, who were to preserve their 
antient forms and usages. Respect for 
these countries, which were at the same 
time the cradle of liberty, and the birth- 
place of those heroes to whom even France 
had erected monuments, seems to have 
given rise to this project; but it was of 
short duration. 

Men who deplored the loss of the 
strength of Switzerland, and expected its 
recovery only from the most absolute 
unity, combated this principle of federa-^ 
lism. Brune yielded to their reasonings, 
and unity was resolved upon. To this 

its refusal,, to constrain it by force. The deputies had 
never been authorised to make such- a declaration. 


effect, he published the following procla- 
mation, dated Berne, the 22d of March, 

BRUISFE, General in Chief, to the Citizens 
of all the Cantons. 

" In the midst of the last efforts of olig-* 
archy against liberty, and of the efferves- 
cence produced by the shock of passions, 
a desire was expressed of dividing Hel- 
vetia into two republics; but repugnance 
to such a division was soon felt by all the 
Swiss, and wishes tending to obtain re- 
publican unity have been manifested from 
all parts. 

" Touched by the numerous representa- 
tions even of those who had at first soli- 
cited the division of Switzerland, I readily 
yield to their present desire for unity, and 
the more so, as I am convinced that it is 
now that of the majority of the nation. 

" In consequence, the deputies who 
were to have repaired to Lausanne to form 
a legislative body, will, immediately after 
their nomination, assemble at Arau, and 

* It was followed by a second of the same tenor from 
commissioner Lecarlier* 



there, joined to the deputies of the other 
cantons, they will form the legislative 



THIS proclamation was a thunder-clap to 
the small cantons, and at once replugged 
them into the same alarms and dangers 
from which, a few days before, they 
thought themselves for ever delivered: 
but it became also the signal of war, and 
of the most vigorous preparations for de- 
fence. Uri, Schwitz, Unterwalden, Zug, 
Glaris, knew the feebleness of their 
means, and the strength of the colossal 
power with which they had to contend: 
but, determined to make any sacrifice in 
order to* preserve, if it were still possible, 
their country and constitution, they did 
not calculate the disadvantage of their 
situation, and only listened to the voice of 
their country crying for succour. Cptem- 


poraries will not assign its just value to this 
generous self-devotion; but posterity will 
be more equitable, and it is for posterity to 
judge the conduct of this people. 

Uri invited its allies to speak in the 
most energetic manner, and to sacrifice 
every thing rather than accept the new 
constitution. On the demand of the can- 
ton of Schwitz, it convoked all the others 
of the Waldstaeten, with Appenzell and 
the country of St. Gall, to a solemn con- 
ference, in which each w T as to pronounce 
whether it were proper to receive law 
from a stranger, and abandon without re- 
sistance a system of government which 
had been accompanied by a felicity of se- 
veral centuries ; or to save the honour of 
the Swiss name by, the employment of 
all their force, in the most vigorous de- 

The circular letter of the canton of Uri 
electrified all the parts of Switzerland to 
which it was addressed. Every where were 
seen, not only men in the vigour of life, 
but old men, children, and even women, 
without regard to the weakness of sex QF 



age, who prepared to offer their arms 
the service of their country. 

The deputies of the five small cantons 
united on the 1st of April at Schwitz, to 
hold the assembly convoked by Uri, and 
weigh the destinies of the government and 
religion^ Those of Unterwalden were be- 
hind the rest; for the people of part of this 
canton still wavered between the option 
of an energetic conduct, and that of an 
accommodation with the foreign power* 
A letter from the canton of Lucerne had 
caused this momentary hesitation, When 
Schwitz had learned what was passing, it 
also wrote, forcibly urging the faith of trea- 
ties, and conjuring the canton not to se- 
parate itself from the common cause: but 
the courier charged with this dispatch had 
not reached the borders of Unterwalden, 
before the latter had already by its deci- 
sion anticipated the wish of its ally, It 
sent deputies to Schwitz, who made known 
its determination rather to perish under 
the attacks of the enemy, than to abandon 
its alliance with those cantons with which 
it had partaken the happiness of former 


A particular circumstance rendered the 
first meeting of the democratical states 
singularly interesting, and greatly contri- 
buted to augment the common enthu- 
siasm. Deputies fromToggenburg, Ixhein- 
thal and Sargans, who were not expected 
to appear in this assembly, came and de- 
manded, in the names of their respective 
people, to enter into the league of the five 
cantons for the defence of the country. 
The deputies of Appenzell and of the 
country and city of St. Gall also attended 
the meeting. 

The assembly of the five cantons was 
touched with this application, as an au- 
thentic proof of genuine public spirit; but, 
for want of sufficient powers, it could not 
venture to take upon itself to admit them 
in its bosom, and grant them deliberative 
powers. Prudence, besides, and the fear 
of giving a plausible ground of displeasure 
to the Trench general, who had already 
marked out these countries by jiame in the 
territorial division of the new republic, 
sufficiently justified this refusal. They 
were, however, permitted to form a sepa- 
rate assembly; and it was resolved that 



each should draw up a memorial to the 
French directory, both which should be 
sent conjointly and in the same man- 

These two assemblies were unanimous 
in their resolution absolutely to reject the 
proposed constitution; and, if circum- 
stances should require it, to make the 
greatest final efforts for the preservation of 
the old one. 

When these assemblies had finished their 
conferences, there arrived at Schwitz depu- 
ties from the country of la Marche, who 
offered to make common cause with the 
five antient cantons ; but it was signified 
to them that they came too late, and ac- 
cess was refused to them. 

Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the upper 
part of the canton of Unterwalden, whose 
deputies were at Schwitz, on a sudden 
changed their intention, and returned to 
that which they had first manifested. The 
people were well convinced of their right 
to maintain inviolate the constitution of 
their ancestors ; but they calculated at the 
same time, that sooner or later they should 
be constrained to submit to force. They 


took the tenderest interest in the fate of 
the most antient members of the confede- 
racy, but recognised the necessity of uni- 
ting with the majority of the Helvetic na- 
tion, and of sacrificing individual political 
existence to the general good* and to the 
prevention of a civil war. The lower part 
of this canton, and even the canton of 
Schwitz, sent in vain deputies to the gene- 
ral assembly of Sarnen * : the people would 
not permit them to appear in the assem- 
bly, and wrote immediately, in concert 
with the abbey of Engelberg, to announce 
to the French general at Berne their ac^ 
ceptance of the Helvetic constitution. 
During this interval, general Brune had re- 
signed the chief command of the French 
army in Helvetia to general Schawenburg. 

The defection of this part of Unter- 
walden irritated the small cantons, but 
did not discourage them, or divert them 
from their resolution. Whatever were to 
be its success, it could not fail to be glo- 
rious and praise-worthy. 

On the 5th of April the deputies of the 

* Sarnen is the chief town of the Upper p&t 

small cantons* departed for Berne, with 
the intention of proceeding to Paris, after 
having obtained the consent of the French 
authorities; but Schawenburg, and the 
commissioner of government Lecarlier, to 
whom they addressed themselves, refused 
them passports. The order had already 
been given for metamorphosing the feeble 
relics of the confederacy into a republic, 
one and indivisible: it was now the busi- 
ness of the agents of the directory to find 
pretexts, and imagine grievances, in order 
to put its inflexible will in execution. 

These pretexts were not long waited for. 
The peasants of Schwitz were irritated 
against the people of Lucerne, who had 
consented to the indivisibility of Switzer- 
land, and had erected trees of liberty in 
every village. The places on the borders 
of these two cantons had perpetual inter- 
course with each other, and quarrels on 
account of their different opinions could 
not fail to arise between the inhabitants. 

* These deputies were Aloys Muller of Uri ; Lewis 
Weber -of Schwitz ; Zweifel of Claris ; Joseph Blum and 
John-Jacob Mesmer of St. Gall. Some were also sent 
by Appenzell, Toggenburg, the Rheinthal, and Sargans. 


The consequence of one of these was, that 
the people of Schwitz came to Greppen to 
cut down the tree of liberty, and strike the 
Helvetic tri-coloured standard, which they 
carried off in triumph to Kusnacht. In other 
places, the peasantry of Lucerne united 
with that of Schwitz in committing similar 
excesses; and no measures of rigour taken 
by the governments of these two cantons 
were sufficient to put .an end to them, 
so much were the minds of the people 

Schawenburg and Lecarlier, attentive 
to all that passed, eagerly seized the oc- 
casion of these partial disorders to de- 
clare enmity against those cantons who 
refused union with the Helvetic republic. 
They therefore sent back with haughti- 
ness and disdain the deputies who came 
to wait upon them ; and in consequence, 
the addresses which the latter were to pre- 
sent to the French directory never arrived 
at their destination : but we think it our 
duty to lay them before our readers, and 
at the same time to communicate to them 
the note which the deputies presented to 
the commissioner Lecarlier. These se- 


veral writings bear the stamp of a truly 
republican spirit, and of the dignity and 
noble frankness of their authors, and de- 
serve preservation in the annals of history. 

To Commissioner Lecarlier. 
" The representatives of the people of 
the most ^ntient democracies in Switzer^ 
land, justly alarmed at the consequences 
of the important changes now going on, 
but still more justly encouraged by the 
generous declarations of the French go-, 
vemment with regard to the democrati- 
cal states, have lately been assembled at 
Schwitz in order to deliberate on the con- 
duct to be held by them in the present 
circumstances, and on the means to be 
employed for the preservation of the truly 
free and democratical constitution of the 
people of these cantons, who would be 
reduced to despair by the loss of it. This 
Assembly, filled with confidence in the sen^ 
timents of justice which animate the ex- 
ecutive directory of the French republic, 
had resolved to address to it the most 
urgent representations on this important 
object, and its deliberations on tfyis head 

.<' fe:' 


were about to be terminated, when the de- 
puties of Appenzell, of the city and coun- 
try of St. Gall, of Toggenburg, of the Two 
Religions, of the Rheinthal and Sargans, 
arrived also at the place of assembly, and 
desired to join it, in order to treat of the 
interests of their people. 

" Although the constitutions of these 
countries are similar to ours, and they 
equally share our apprehensions and our 
wishes; some difference in the motives, 
and other particular considerations, have 
prevented us from joining their observa- 
tions to ours in one and the same address : 
but we should have thought that we justly 
merited the reproach of equitable persons, 
had we dissuaded our allies from a step, 
from which, for ourselves, we expect the 
happiest consequences. 

" We are equally persuaded, ' citizen 
commissioner, that neither you nor the 
executive directory will disapprove our 
conduct with respect to these countries. 

" In taking the liberty of communi- 
cating to you the memorial which we 
have the honour to address to the 
French directory, we thought it right 


to inform you of the preceding circum- 

" Your humanity, your justice, the nu- 
merous proofs of goodwill which you have 
given to our nation, and your knowledge 
of the true situation of our deniocratical 
states, assure us of the zeal you will em- 
ploy in supporting our respectful observa- 
tions before the directory, and of the new 
claims you will acquire to our eternal gra- 

" Accept, &e. 

" Schwitz, 5th April, 1798. 

" In the name of the Representatives of 
the Communities of the Democratical 
Cantons of Uri, Schwitz, Unterwalden, 
Zug, and Claris. 

WEBER, landamman and banneret. 
SCHUELLER, antient landamman. 
to the canton of Schwitz. 

" Memorial of the Five Democratical Can- 
tons, addressed to the French Directory. 


" The French republic, in declaring it- 
self a friend and ally 6f the Swiss nation, 



and promising to respect its right of sove- 
reignty, appeared at first to have only had 
in view to favour the efforts of the inha- 
bitants of the aristocratical states, for the 
resumption of that primitive liberty of 
which the democratical cantons were the 
source and authors. 

" Tranquillised by these principles, so 
solemnly recognised by the French repub- 
lic, we were very far from believing that 
it meant any prejudice to the liberty and 
independence of the popular governments, 
whilst it was pleased to propose them as 
models to the other people of Switzerland. 

" Meantime, the approach of armies, 
the uncertainty of their destination, and 
public rumaur, all soon concurred in 
spreading an alarm among us likewise, 
the peaceful inhabitants of the valleys 
of Switzerland. But our opinion of your 
equity, citizen directors, and our confi- 
dence that your conduct will always cor- 
respond with your principles and pro- 
mises, were able without difficulty to calm 
our apprehensions. 

" We chose, from the bosom of our ge- 
neral assemblies, representatives of the 


people, whom we sent to general Brune 
at Berne. Th6 reception which he gave 
them, and the written and verbal assur- 
ances which they brought from him, en- 
tirely confirmed us in the security to which 
we had ventured to resign ourselves. 

" We had scarcely begun to enjoy the 
benefits of this security, when on a sudden 
we receiA r ed, from the provisional govern- 
ment of Soleure, the plan of a new Hel- 
vetic constitution, and a pressing invita- 
tion to concur in it ; at the same time we 
learned, though in an indirect manner, 
that all the cantons of Switzerland would 
be obliged to submit to it. 

** We can find no expressions strong 
enough to paint to you, citizen directors, 
the consternation Avhich seized us upon 
the receipt of intelligence which the con- 
course of so many circumstances, rendered 
so improbable. 

64 In vain should we attempt to describe 
to you the grief with which it fills our 
souls. Nothing, in our estimation, can 
equal the misfortune of losing the consti- 
tution founded by our ancestors, adapted 
to our manners and wants, and cemented 


by the enjoyment, during several centuries, 
of all the comfort and happiness of which 
our peaceful valleys are susceptible. 

" Citizen directors, if it be possible that 
you have conceived the project of making 
some changes in the form of our popular 
governments, permit us to confer with you 
on this point in the language of freedom 
and sincerity. 

" Permit us, in the first place, to ask you 
plainly if you have found any thing in our 
constitutions which is adverse to the ,prin^ 
ciples of yours, 

"Where can you find a mode of govern* 
ment which more exclusively than ours 
puts the exercise and the right of sove- 
reignty in the hands of the people? irs 
which civil and political equality is more 
perfect? in which every citizen enjoys a 
larger sum of liberty ? We bear no other 
chains than the light ones of religion and 
morality ; no other yoke than that of the 
laws which we have given ourselves. Else- 
where, perhaps, the people may have 
much to desire in these different respects; 
but with us, the descendants of William 


Tell, who have maintained without the 
least alteration the constitution he left 
us, and for the preservation of which 
we speak to yon with all the energy in- 
spired by the consciousness of pleading the 
most just of causes; with us there exists 
but a single, an unanimous wish,- that 
of remaining subject to the government 
which providence and the courage of our 
ancestors have bequeathed to us. And 
what government, citizen-directors, can be 
more consonant to yours ? 

" We, the people of these countries, 
whose sovereignty you have so often pro- 
mised to respect, we are the sovereigns of 
these small cantons ; we elect our magis- 
trates and displace them at our pleasure; 
the sections of our cantons elect our coun- 
cils, which are our representatives, the re- 
presentatives of the people. ;>- 

" Such, in the abstract, are the bases of 
our constitutions. Do they not rest upon 
principles similar to those on which your, 
government is founded ? How, then, can 
you have a wish to annihilate our happi- 
ness by infringing our political organiza- 


tion ? What can be your motives to do it, 
and what kind of advantages can you de- 
rive from it ? 

"-Supposing even that you had the 
power, we believe that your justice will 
not permit you to employ it for the intro- 
duction among us, by force,, of a constitu- 
tion which scarcely the hundredth part of 
our citizens will be able to comprehend. 

" We are a people of herdsmen and 
mountaineers, who, faithful to the simple 
manners of our ancestors, have been able 
hitherto to live with few wants, and to con- 
tent ourselves with our happy mediocrity. 
The small revenues of our cantons would 
scarcely supply salaries for the great num- 
ber of public functionaries which the new 
constitution would give us. Resources must 
be found in the properties of individuals, 
which, for the most part very moderate, 
would in a short time be exhausted, and 
this inevitable consequence would threat- 
en our country with speedy and total ruin. 

" Do not then be surprised, citizen di- 
rectors, if the certainty of this afflicting 
prospect causes us to abhor this new 
order of things, and to regard it as a 

burthen, the weight of which exceeds out* 

" Your profound views in politics, youf 
exact knowledge of the character, the si- 
tuation, and the resources of the people 
who surround you, will come to the sup- 
port of these representations, and your hu- 
manity, more eloquent than ourselves, 
will plead with you for us. 

" The great nation, whose glory con- 
sists in filling the annals of its history with 
acts of justice arid generosity, can never 
sully them with the recital of the oppres- 
sion of a peaceable people, who have done 
it no hahn; and who have neither the will 
nor the power of ever injuring it. 

"Far from dreading such a fate, your 
known principles lead us to foster the con- 
soling hope of soon learning that you have 
planned the new constitution only for 
those parts of Switzerland which shall re-* 
quest it of you; and that, in the midst of 
the changes you are about to effect, you 
will suffer the democratical governments 
to subsist, as so many monuments of your 
admiration for the heroes whose Work they 
are, and whose noble deeds you have so 
often extolled* 


" l)eign, citizen directors, to give us 
another proof of your benevolent inten- 
tiolis towards the small cantons, by order- 
ing that the communication between'them 
and the rest of Switzerland may not be 

" Especially deign to free us soon from 
our cruel uncertainty ; and then our peace- 
ful valleys shall resound with the expres- 
sion of our gratitude towards the great na- 
tion and its worthy magistrates* 

" SchwitZj 5th of April, 1798. 

" In the name of the Communities and 
Councils of the Democratical Cantons 
of Uri, Schwitz, &c. 

Schmid, antient landamman "J r 
Schmid, captain-general J 

Weber, landamman and banneret -\ 

\ of 
antient landamman J 

. A. Wursch, landamman T ,, TT 

}- of Unterwalden* 
eler, catain -eneral. J 

Zelger, captain -general. 
Francis-Joseph Andermatt 
Char leS" Francis Kayser 
Antony Hess 
Aloys Staul 
Joseph Baumgarten 

l) landamman 
uller, stattha 
Antony Ulrich, secretary of the canton of Schwitz." 

^ fr] . 
Felix Muller, statthalter J 


Memorial of the People of AppenzeU^ St. 
GatI 9 .Toggenburg 9 Rheintha I, and Sar- 
gans, to the Executive Directory of the 
French Republic. 


"Your example has roused men from 
their long apathy. Since the great nation 
has recalled liberty to the earth, all have 
successively shaken off their chains. 

" With what satisfaction must not the 
heart of the Swiss patriot be filled, when 
he reflects that from us the great nation 
took the first sparks of that sacred fire, 
kindled by our ancestors, whose valour 
struck the first blows against the tyrants 
of Europe! 

" We, citizen directors, are the descen- 
dants of these men, and, we venture to 
say, are worthy of this honourable name; 
for, by means of the political regeneration 
which has taken place among' us, we have 
re-entered into the possession of that an- 
tient liberty which we had lost through 
the course of time, but which bur bre- 
thren have generously and voluntarily re- 


stored to us, by sacrificing the sovereignty 
which they exercised over their equals and 

" In, a word, citizen directors, we are all 
free at present, after the model of the 
deinocratical canton of Appenzell, which 
for three centuries and a half has enjoyed 
the rights of man in their plenitude, and 
which, together with us, demands the pre- 
servation of its democratical constitution. 

" What then was our surprise when there 
was suddenly presented to us a constitu- 
tion hitherto unknown to us ! 

" Permit us, citizen directors, with all 
the liberty that becomes free men, to com- 
municate to you our sentiments on this 

" We ask of you, in the first place, why 
it is wished to democratize us ? Is not our 
constitution sufficiently democratical Is 
not our people the sole sovereign; the au- 
thority by which laws are made; which 
chooses its magistrates according to a re- 
presentative system, planned in such a 
manner that a purer is not easy to be 
conceived ? These are facts which it is 



impossible to render dubious : we hope* 
therefore, citizen directors, that you will 
approve the sole wish we form, that of re- 
mainin ; g in the repose which we enjoy, 
with the power of governing ourselves ac- 
cording to the example of our ancestors, 
and our brothers, the democratical can- 


" Further, the constitution which is pro- 
posed to vis is suited neither to our local 
positions, our manners, our customs, nor, 
especially, to that poverty which is the 
true wealth of a pastoral people ; since it 
is the most certain shield against factitious 
wants, and leaves us content and happi- 
ness. This constitution, applicable; per- 
haps, to richer countries, would soon have 
annihilated our domestic resources. Would 
not that be the greatest misfortune which 
could happen to us ? and would you, ci- 
tizen directors, prepare the Way for our 
ruin and that of our children by forcing us 
to accept it ? 

" No, citizen directors, you cannot! 
your pure and upright intentions, your re- 
publican principles, the justice which di- 

tects your decisions, all assure us that 
are secure from the danger with which we 
have been threatened. 

" May these few words inform you of 
our desires, of our wishes, of our hopes ! 
Will you listen to them ? Yes, you will ; 
and then we shall recognise in you, and in 
the great nation which you so worthily re- 
present, the firmest supporters of Swiss 

" SchwitZ, 5th of April, 1?98. 

" The Representatives of Appenzell, Saint 
Gall, c> 







\ViiEN the deputies of the small cantons 
were returned home, and had apprised 
their principals of the bad success of their 
mission, the rage and indignation of the 
people arose to their height. A general 
insurrection took place in all the country 
between the lakes of Waldstaeten and 
Constance, and through the whole chain 
of the Alps. All the heat and fury that 
passion, enthusiasm, and fanaticism could 
inspire, was the consequence of these 
tidings. Fathers and mothers exhorted 
their children to die for their country. Some 
invoked the anger of heaven upon the de- 
stroyers of the liberty and religion of the 
Swiss ; others prophesied and announced 
the divine vengeance. The disastrous days 
of Morgarten and Naefels seemed to be 
renewed, except that France had taken 
the place of Austria: the tree of 'liberty 
which she was desirous of planting, in 
the eyes of the enraged inhabitants of 
the Waldstaeten, was the abhorred cap of 


Gesler, before which they were to be com- 
pelled to humble themselves*. 

Schawenburg and Lecarlier, without 
fearing the consequences of the despair 
which they were about to infuse into the 
mountaineers, hastened their operations. 
The commissioner addressed the following 
proclamation to the five small cantons, 
and those of Appenzell, St. Gall, and 


" I have made known to your deputies 
the express will of the French directory, 
of which they will apprise you. To resist 

* In pictures, long anterior to the French revolution, 
representing the action of William Tell^ the latter is al- 
ways clad in the national Helvetic colours, green, red, 
and yellow ; but it is singular enough, that Gesler, a per- 
son whose memory is odious to the Swiss, is constantly 
dressed from head to foot, as well as his satellites, in the 
three French colours. This observation may be verified 
in the chapels of William Tell at Burglen, Uri, and other 
places. This circumstance has contributed more, per- 
haps, than has been imagined, to the decided aversion 
of the inhabitants of the small cantons towards the 

t Dated from Berne, 22 Germinal, year 6 : llth of 
April, 1798, 


this will, would on your parts be a conduct 
equally remote from prudence and from 
your personal interests. Your welfare and 
quiet demand from you to unite with the 
other parts of Switzerland; the social con- 
tract which will connect you is adapted to 
your respective situations. The new le- 
gislative body is charged to make such 
changes in it as may be judged necessary. 
" Attempts have been mad to prepos- 
sess, you against the new Helvetic consti- 
tution, and to paint it to you in the black- 
est colours. Men who wish to sacrifice 
the happiness and repose of their country 
to their private interests, have told you 
that this constitution deprived you of your 
liberty, fettered your commerce, over- 
burthened you with imposts, and attacked 
liberty of conscience. I mean by an open 
and honest declaration to rectify the er- 
roneous ideas under which you labour on 
these subjects, 

*' The sovereignty will always remain in 
the hands of the people, since the electors 
who are to nominate the public functiona- 
ries will themselves be nominated by the 
people. This mode of election, equally 


ith that which, has been in 
use among you, will have the advantage 
over it of preventing all disorders. 

" The new constitution, far from fetter- 
ing your commerce, or hindering the in- 
crease of your herds, will open to you the 
markets of France, by giving you new ti- 
tles to the good- will of the great nation. 
Taxes Avill not be levied in proportion to 
the public functionaries whom you are to 
nominate, but will be portioned with jus- 
tice, according to a mode relative to the 
nature and extent of your resources. The 
constitution guaranteeing in a positive 
manner the freedom of worship, it would 

be superfluous to add any thing on this 

-t -i 


" I conceive that I have now answered 
your principal objections against the Hel- 
vetic constitution, in a manner which en- 
titles me to hope that, by your ready ac- 
ceptance of it, you will spare yourselves 
the incalculable evils ...which will be the 
inevitable result of a longer resistance on 


your part. 

"(Signed) LECARLIER." 

Schawenburg accompanied this address 
with hostile proceedings. He caused on 
the same day to be printed and dispersed 
with profusion, placards importing that 
the priests of St. Gall, Toggenburg, and 
Appenzell, as well as those of the five 
smaller cantons, should be responsible 
with their heads for the public tranquil- 
lity; and that if, within the space of 
tAvelve days, the primary assemblies, of 
these countries should not be convoked to 
vote on the acceptance of the constitution, 
the ecclesiastics and governors should be 
declared accomplices of the oligarchs, 
considered and treated as such*. Not 
content with these menaces, and for the 
greater certainty of success, Schawenburg 
caused all communication to be cut off 
between these and the other cantons. 

But these hostile measures, these me- 
naces and imperious declarations, did not 
humble the spirits of the mountaineers ; 
on the contrary, they inspired them with 
new energy, by inflaming their rage and 

* This declaration is dated from Berne,, 22 Germinal, 
year Q, 


pride. Habituated for ages past to be 
treated by the European powers upon the 
footing of a free and independent people, 
how strange must appear to them the de- 
nominations of rebels and fanatics which 
the French agents lavished upon them 
without reason ! France, which, following 
the example of the Swiss republics, had 
proclaimed in the face of the world liberty 
and equality of rights, suddenly advanced 
to violate the country of William Tell, and 
spread through it the ravages of war, be- 
cause it would not receive law from a 
stranger \ France, which preached * war 
to thrones and peace to cottages', now 
caused its armies to march against the 
wretched cabins of those herdsmen whose 
felicity had so long been an object of 
envy ! France, which so lately continued 
to declare its friendship towards the Swiss 
democracies, and assured them that it 
would never break the bonds of union, 
noAv attacked these petty communities ! 
It deceived them with the greater facility, 
as the inhabitants of the small cantons 
trusted to the promises they had received, 
not through their opinion of the morality 


of the rulers of ^France, but. because they 

gave them .credit for greatness of soul 

enough to disdain having recourse to 

treachery, while the superiority of their 

-strength offered them sufficient and less 

guilty means. 

These reflexions, and the consequences 
flowing : from them, would naturally pre- 
sent themselves to the' minds of a people 
-equally jealous of - their rights, and proud 
irf their recollections. Jn the midst of the 
-a'fflictive impressions which the conduct of 
occasioned, theip^ople of Schwitz 
il the 16th, 1798, in a gene- 
extraordinary assembly, in the 
%<e>ry place where they had so often sworn 
^Jddlity tOi~their constitution, in order to 
ifaear 'the odious, propositiqn which had 
made to them-ia : Their deputies, 
from Berne with ignominy, gave an 
of their mission, 2tnd ; read the 
menacing proclamation of the French ge- 
3 v 

be difficult to give an image 
which the ^relation of these 
<}eptrti^-produced. -^iAodead silence first 
v the assembly ; but presently 


the liveliest agitation succeeded this ap- 
parent calm. No one could comprehend 
how it was possible to make such demands, 
and still less, how any one could accede 
to them. The idea of having enjoyed, 
during nearly five centuries, an unbounded 
liberty, and of being required in an instant 
to sacrifice it to the unjust resentment of 
a foreign power, excited a warm indigna- 
tion through the people, and raised their 
courage and enthusiasm to the highest 

The assembly then, electrified as it were 
by love for their country and zeal to de- 
tend it, swore by common consent to in- 
ject the demands of France, and to main- 
tain the honour of the Swiss name, its re- 
ligion and liberty, " We acknowledge no 
other master than God," was repeated oft 
all sides, " and we will serve no other! 
We will endure no foreign yoke! What 
is this liberty to which they would have 
us sacrifice our own ? What have we done 
to the French, and wherefore do they 
come to attack us? But we have steel, 
hands, and the example of our fathers ! 


We will die like Christians, or live free 
like them." 

When this first effervescence was some- 
what subsided, the people turned all their 
rage against the new constitution. They 
decreed, that any apologist of it, either 
in public or in private assemblies, should 
be declared guilty of the crime of lese- 
nation, and delivered as such to trial be- 
fore the tribunals. 

In order to take the measures necessary 
for immediately putting the country in a 
state of defence, there was created upon 
the spot a council of war consisting of six 
members, who had power to associate six 
other colleagues chosen from among the 
villages*; and the people were enjoined, 
in the name of the oath taken individually 
to their country, to obey the council of 
war in all things. It was further ordered, 
that every man capable of bearing arms 
should every day perform his exercise, and 

;ftf!^jj$ 3^JBri;'if. <>b-n 

* The, names of the members of this council were, 
Aloys Reding, Benedict Bellmond, David Staedeli, Do- 
minic Busier, Lewis Auf der Maur, and Werner Hett- 


that the others should be employed in 
working upon the fortifications. All the 
absentees, with the exception of those who 
were beyond the limits of Switzerland, 
M r ere commanded to return to their homes, 
on penalty of forfeiture of their right of 

These decrees of the general assembly 
were immediately put into execution, and 
communicated to those cantons and coun- 
tries of Switzerland which had assisted at 
the last conference of Schwitz, and pro- 
mised to concur in the common defence; 
They were required to make all their pre- 
parations without delay, and to send de- 
puties to sit in a central council of war, 
and concert together the plan of the cam- 

The council of war was scarcely esta- 
blished, when there arrived on the day of 
its creation deputies from the free baili- 
wicks, and from those of the canton of 
Lucerne, who announced in the name of 
their communities, that they wished to 
unite with Schwitz, and participate in its 
fortune. The enthusiasm of defence had 
gained all that part of Switzerland which 


Was not yet subjugated by the arms of 
France ; and the safety of the confederacy 
seemed only to depend upon some happy 
circumstance, which, rousing at once all 
the people of Helvetia, should have made 
them act simultaneously and in concert 
against the enemy. 

Meantime, the canton of Lucerne, in 
obedience to the orders of the commis- 
sioner Lecarlier, had sent a body of troops 
to the borders of Schwitz, in order to in- 
tercept all communication with it, and for 
the same purpose had armed a bateau on 
the lake. The canton of Schwitz, on this 
intelligence, had sent off its third batta- 
lion, accompanied by a hundred chas- 
seurs, on the 18th of April, and ordered 
this body to advance as far as Kusnacht* 
Lucerne, apprehending a civil war, wrote 
immediately that it had not ceased to 
wish to live in amity with the canton of 
Schwitz, but that, having accepted the 
new constitution, it had not been able to 
refuse a step required by the commis- 
sioner Lecarlier, and had been forced to 
place a weak cordon of troops on its limits. 
But Schwit^ replied, that it was impossi- 

ble to restore order and tranquillity in its 
territories, if the canton of Lucerne did 
not co-operate in maintaining the govern- 
ment established in it. 


THE canton of Schwitz was indisputably 
the soul of the alliance, and the centre of 
all the military operations. No indecision, 
no fear, paralysed the efforts of the gover- 
nors of this canton ; the terror which the 
name alone of France inspired in half the 
globe, was lost npon this people, who did 
not calculate the strength of its enemy, 
but only viewed its injustice. Every in- 
dividual felt that he had a good cause, 
and considered only the insult offered to 
his country. If a similar self-devotion, 
and a will equally unanimous, had direct- 
ed the rest of the confederates, it is to be 
presumed that Schawenburg and his army 
would have found their graves in the Alps. 


But the greater part of the cantons and 
countries which, a few days before^ had 
made the most solemn promises to Schwitz 
of sharing its perils and glory, violated 
their oaths when the danger approached. 
Selfishness, jealousy, a little spirit of local 
interest, and all the vices of federalism* 
divided the cantons, towns and villages. 
It was not the brigades of Schawenburg 
that destroyed the confederacy ; the causes 
of this destruction were within itself; its 
fall was inevitable even had not France in- 

The deputies which Schwitz had sent to 
sound the dispositions of the people of the 
bailiwicks returned with favourable re- 
ports. Most of the countries which they 
visited had engaged themselves by writing 
to join the alliance of the five democra- 
tical cantons. 

But the reports from St. Gall, the Rhein- 
thai, Toggenburg, and Appenzell, were 
much less satisfactory. 

The country of St. Gall declared, that 
it would joyfully have complied with the 
desires gf the canton of Schwitz, had it not 


itself lain under very embarrassing cir- 
cumstances; but that Thurgovia having 
accepted the new constitution, and march- 
ed a body of troops towards its frontiers, 
it was rendered incapable of doing any- 
thing for its allies, and was forced to think 
of defending itself. 

The town of St. Gall answered to the 
same effect, and employed the same rea- 

The Rheinthal acknowledged that in- 
deed it had acceded in its general assem- 
bly to the last decree of the canton of 
Claris, and promised to concur with all 
its powder in the defence of the country and 
its independence; but it excused itself 
from sending auxiliaries, Before its fears 
were removed of an attack from Thurgo- 
via, and it was "acquainted with the reso- 
lutions entered into by the canton of Ap- 
penzell, Toggenburg, the town and country 
of St. Gall, Sargans, Gaster, Uznach, and 
the country of la Marche. It promised 
to give aid to the five cantons, as soon 
as it should cease to feel anxiety for 
its own safety; it announced, in the 
mean time, the mission of two officers 


to take a seat in the council of war at 

The catholic part of Toggenburg said 
that it could not determine whether or not 
it should send succours, before its com- 
munities had assembled to vote on the 
acceptance or rejection of the constitu- 

Appenzell wrote, that it had firmly dis- 
carded every idea of change in its political 
constitution ; but that nevertheless it could 
not actively concur in the plans of general 
defence ; both because it was impossible 
for it to send to the council of war those 
officers for whom it had occasion in its 
own service, and because it wished first 
of all to be assured of the dispositions of 
Toggenburg with respect to itself. It 
further alleged, that several of its commu- 
nities having accepted the new constitu- 
tion, the rest of the canton stood in an 
extremely difficult and irksome situation. 

Thus several of the firmest supports of 
the Waldstaeten failed them on a sudden, 

* These officers arrived, but the council of war would 
not admit them. 
f It- determined for the acceptance. 


and destroyed their fairest hopes: the 
petty districts of Sargans, Uznach, Gaster^ 
and la Marche alone remained faithful to 
the cause of their allies. Sargans declared 
that it would defend the country with the 
small means in its power; Uznach en- 
gaged to furnish eight hundred men ; and 
Gaster immediately caused four compa- 
nies to march, with orders to join the 
army of the five small cantons, which, with 
these feeble succours, stood solely exposed 
to the shock of a terrible foe, against 
ivhom they were to try the hazards of the 



these five cantons, far from under- 
standing their true interests, and strength- 
ening themselves by union, seemed only ap- 
prehensive of their personal dangers. More 
ready to ask succour, than to grant it to 
their neighbours, they were not under the 
direction of a common will, which could 
, cast a view upon the wants of the whole : 
each thought and acted only for itself. 

Before the war had yet commenced, the 
lower part of the canton of Untenvalden 
demanded of Schwitz assistance against 
the upper^part, which, as w^e have already 
observed, had united itself to the Helvetic 
republic. Schwitz made no hesitation in 
complying with the desire of its ally. It 
immediately sent to Untenvalden two 
members of the council of war* to take 
cognizance of the state of affairs, and or- 
dered colonel Aloys Gwerder to proceed 
with his battalion to Brunnen in order to 
be in readiness to act as occasion should 

* Jacob Zweyer and Joseph-Francis Ab-Iberg, 


require. It also invited the canto;i of Uri 
to take similar measures. 

But Uri delayed. The governors of 
this canton were not agreed among them- 
selves, and wavered in their resolutions. 
The country, encircled on one side by 
mountains covered with snow and almost 
impassable, on the other, by a stormy lake 
difficult to navigate, and defended by a 
handful of practised and courageous sol- 
diers, seemed to be able to suffice for it- 
self. This was the cause of its indecision 
and repugnance to take part in a foreign 

The canton of Schwitz, animated by a 
totally different spirit, and regardless of 
the feebleness of its means, did not imitate 
the example of the oldest of its allies, 
but thought only of protecting the entire 
league. It was vigilantly attentive to de- 
stroy every germ of discord which might 
agitate the interior of the country, and 
reckoned as nothing a sacrifice which could 
contribute to augment the force to be op- 
posed to the enemy. When that class of 
the population of Schwitz which we have 
designated in this work under the title of 


inhabitants came to express its desire of 
participating in the rights of citizens, 
since, in the present crisis, it was about 
to share with them in the perils of war, its 
request was instantly granted. The general 
assembly on the 18th of April declared, 
that the inhabitants who should have ran-? 
ged themselves under the banners of the 
canton, and have fought for the country, 
should be admitted, they and their poste- 
rity, to the title and rights of citizens. 
With respect to those who should not beaj? 
arms, they were referred to a commission, 
which, in consideration of a very mode- 
rate sum, should have the power of pro- 
posing them to the adoption of the general 
assembly. At the same time a promise 
was made of having regard in future t6 
the old men and children to whom this de- 
cree could not extend. 

During these transactions, the deputies 
which each of the small cantons was to 
send to the council of war at Schwitz,- ar- 
rived there. Those from Unterwalden, 
were Meinrad Faeller and Joseph-Mary 
Christen ; from Zug, captains Aloys Stauh 
and Hurleman of Walchwylen ; from G la* 


ris, colonel Paravicini and his son Emi~ 
Kus., Uri alone kept silence; no one ap- 
peared on its part, and a courier sent to 
that canton returned on the 19th of April 
without bringing a consolatory reply. The 
council of war felt a lively displeasure at 
this conduct, but thought fit to dissemble, 
because the participation of Uri was too 
important to allow the neglect of any 
means for obtaining it. It immediately 
/ sent some of its members in order to en- 
gage the people of this canton not to wait 
in inaction till the danger should approach 
their own frontiers, but rather to prevent 
it by giving prompt succour to those of 
Unterwalden. This step was not totally 
useless. The general assembly of Uri de- 
creed a supply of troops, and nominated 
two officers to assist at the council of war 
at Schwitz. 

The confederates, meantime, thought 
they might commence their operations, 
and trace out the plan to which the moun- 
tainous part of Switzerland was to be in- 
debted for its safety. The council was 
unanimous in deciding for offensive war, 
with the exception of the deputies of Uri, 


who, imitating the prudent circumspec- 
tion of their canton, declared that they 
could not accede to such a project, with- 
out being previously authorised by their 

The council of war was therefore a se- 
cond time obliged to send a deputation to 
Altdorf, and to negotiate the necessary 
powers. But the council of Uri replied, 
that since the subject of discussion was a 
very extensive plan of operations, the con- 
sequences of which must be decisive of 
the safety or ruin of the country, it thought 
itself unable to give its deputies the au- 
thority required ; especially as the last ge- 
neral assembly, in decreeing succours to 
the canton of Unterwalden, had ordered 
that the troops employed for this purpose 
should have no other destination, and 
that, consequently, it had appeared de- 
sirous of confining itself to a war purely 
defensive. This council added, that it 
wished its deputies to remain at Schwitz 
as short a time as possible, since it could 
scarcely dispense with their presence to 
assist in the preparations for their own de- 


The council of war read this answer; 
and, lamenting over the evils which such 
imbecility presaged, permitted the depu- 
ties of Uri to return home. 


on which the fate of Switzer- 
land was to be decided, now rapidly ad- 
vanced. The French brigades, put in mo- 
tion, marched- in several columns, and 
threatened the small cantons on all sides 
with a speedy and vigorous attack. It 
was then that the confederates began to 
discover their weakness, and the insuf- 
ficiency of their means. Individual cou- 
rage was to compensate the want of num- 
bers, and enthusiasm and temerity, the 
deficiency of tactics and military expe- 
rience. All methods were therefore em- 
ployed .to produce these effects upon the 
minds of the people, and exalt their spi- 
rits to the requisite degree. 

Full scope was given to the eloquence 


of the priests, who, on their part, fulfilled 
their mission with all the ardour of fana- 
ticism, hurling from their pulpits the thun- 
derbolts of religion upon the French ar- 
mies, which, not content with making war 
upon the earth, seemed desirous to chal- 
lenge heaven itself. Sacred standards were 
planted* ; and the priests promised the 
joys of paradise to those who should die 
fighting under their shade. In the cot- 
tages and fields were surig patriotic songs 
accompanied with military music-f* ; in 
fine, every thing announced the rage of 
vengeance, and the desire of dying for 
their country, 

The council of war hastened to profit 
of this disposition of the people, and to 
apply it to the execution of their projects; 

* These standards," loaded with relics and images of 
saints, bore various inscriptions proper to inflame a sim^ 
pie and credulous people, strongly attached to the doc-r 
trines of the catholic religion, 

-tThe favourite song of the inhabitants of Schwitz, 
especially of the more enlightened class, and that which 
the officers sung as they led their soldiers to the foe, had 
been composed some years before by Henry Zschokke, 
author of this work, and set to music by Hornschub* a 
- composer of Berne. 


but the whole army of the allies, all their 
forces united, all in short that they hacl 
to oppose to the 'French, did not exceed 
ten thousand men. 

Notwithstanding this evident inferio-* 
rity, it was resolved not to wait the enemy, 
but to go and meet him, and endeavour, 
by some brilliant action, to rouse the 
other parts of Switzerland, and restore 
them to the antient confederacy. The 
success of this plan, how rash soever it 
might seem, turned, however, upon a sin-* 
gle victory, a single general engagement ; 
for the French, at that time scarcely 
amounting to 30,000 in Helvetia, would 
have been assailed in all quarters, and 
could not have preserved any rallying 
point. The discontent against them was 
become general, and their defeat was uni- 
versally wished. Never did the sentiment 
of national honour rise higher among the 
Swiss, than when the petty cantons were 
seen boldly to make head against the force 
of France ; and even the friends of the re- 
volution would have preferred the success 
of the Swiss arms, to that of the foreign 
arms which came to effect it. The half 


of Helvetia already revolutionised had de- 
sired a change, but one without foreign 
influence, and was inconsolable to see 
that foreigners took so active a part in 
this event. If the conquerors of Berne had 
been obliged for an instant to retreat, 
their first retiring step would have been 
the signal of a general insurrection, and 
of their entire destruction. 

The confederates, although convinced of 
the importance of success in the beginning* 
yet neglected the measures proper to ob- 
tain it : they knew not how to command 
fortune, and render the chance of battle 
favourable to them. While the French di- 
spersed their troops, and formed a line 
which extended from Berne to the banks 
of the Thun, it would have been eas3 r for 
the confederates to unite all their forces, 
to attack the enemy in the weakest point, 
and to make an incursion into one of the 
neighbouring cantons, whose inhabitants 
only waited for such a step to declare 
openly in their favour, *ind join them in 
falling upon the French. This operation 
was the more easy, and the more certain 
of success, as the Swiss joined to the per- 


feet knowledge of the mountains and of 
their defiles, the advantage of everywhere 
meeting with the most exact information 
of the position of the enemy; whilst the 
latter could only act at hazard, and upon 
uncertain grounds. 

Instead of this, the confederates, con- 
stantly shackled by the unfortunate spirit 
of federalism, which induced each canton 
first of all to aim at completely covering 
its own boundaries, partitioned their small 
army upon aline of about twenty leagues 
in extent, thus presenting at all the points 
of their territory a vain image of defence, 
and in no part a real and sufficient force. 

The right wing, under the command of 
colonel Paravicini, bore on the southern 
point of the lake of Zurich*. This officer 
was to invade the canton of Zurich, whilst 
colonel Andermatt of Zug was to take 
possession of the free bailiwicks. They 
had orders afterwards to make a junction 
between Zurich and Bremgarten. 

* It was composed of 600 men of Claris ; 400 of Sar- 
gans ; 600 of la Marche ; 402 of Caster ; 200 of Uz- 
nach j 500 of Schwitz ; and SdO of the farms and vil- 
lages formerly subject : Total, 3302 fighting men. 


The centre was commanded by Aloys 
Reding., Landshaupimann of Schwitz. In 
order to establish an easy communication 
between the two wings of the army, he 
had orders to take possession of the town 
of Lucerne, and make himself master of 
the whole canton; For this purpose he had 
at his disposal 2,400 men of Schwitz, 750 
of Zug, and 500 of Unterwalden. 

The left wing, resting upon Brunig, 
covered with forests and the chain of 
mountains separating the Oberland from 
the country of Obwalden, the upper part 
of the canton of Unterwalden, was formed 
by the union of 800 men of this last can- 
ton, 600 of Uri, 400 of Schwitz/ 54 of the 
little republic of Gersau, and 400 of Gla- 
ris. In the sequel, Obwalden also sent 
600 men : but this division of the army 
never had an effective force of above 
2,854 men : It was commanded by major 
Hausser, who was directed to descend the 
Brunig, to enter into the valley of Hasli, 
belonging to the canton of Berne, and to 
take possession of Brientz and Thun* 

VVhilst the confederates were thus pre- 
paring for offensive war, the rich abbey of 

255 -- 

Our Lady of the Hermits would not remain 
an useless spectator of this great contest- 
Hitherto parsimonious of the treasures 
which it had accumulated during so many 
ages, and trembling lest they should be* 
come the prey of the French, it had as 
yet contributed to the defence of the 
country only benedictions, absolutions, re-* 
lies and miracles * notwithstanding the re- 
presentations made to it at different times 
on the insufficiency of its succours, by the 
canton of Schwitz. But the approach of 
danger rendered it more generous : it made 
the canton a present of a thousand louis- 
dores, offered it all its plate, and autho- 
rised it to borrow, on the property of the 
abbey, all the funds it might want for the 
expenses of the war, 

. Meantime the rest of Helvetia, which 
had accepted the constitution, saw with 
pain these reciprocal preparations, and 
awaited with anxiety the result of this 
bloody contest. Whatever might be the 
fate of the small cantons, whether to sink 
beneath the burthen of their enterprise, 
or to rise from it victorious, each alter- 
native gave the prospect of the evils and 


disasters inseparable from war, and the 
country was too poor long to support the 
expense of it. 

The Helvetic directory, recently cre- 
ated and assembled at Arau, foreseeing 
the terrible consequences to the small can- 
tons of so unequal a struggle, endeavoured 
to divert them from it by representations 
drawn from their own interest, and from 
the manifest nature of things. It address- 
ed to them the following memorial : 

" You cannot be ignorant that the great 
majority of the states formerly confede- 
rated, have accepted a constitution which, 
by uniting them into one, has made only 
a single nation of them, and which has 
already become active in its principal 
branches, after having been solemnly ac- 
cepted. The first authorities instituted 
by it are in the full exercise of their func- 
tions ; and their wishes would have been 
accomplished, if the w^hole of the cantons 
had acceded to the fraternal alliance, and 
followed the example of more than three- 
fourths of Switzerland. But instead of 
this desired union, the Helvetic directory 
learns, with a surprise mingled with com- 


passion, that the non-united cantons, not 
content with testifying for themselves the 
greatest aversion for the new political or- 
ganization, notwithstanding all that could 
be urged to rectify their errors on this 
subject, attempt also to seduce the neigh- 
bouring cantons, and to detach them by 
means of seduction, and even of violence, 
from the Helvetic republic of which they 
have consented and sworn to form a part ; 
and thus to drag them along with them- 
selves into the abyss which they are dig- 
ging under their feet, 

" The executive directory, chosen by 
the representatives of the people, and sur*- 
rounded by the public confidence, fulfils 
one of its most sacred duties in striving to 
bring back to just principles those mem- 
bers of the former Helvetic body who are 
wandering from them ; and will not cease 
its efforts till it shall have exhausted all the 
persuasive means to enlighten them respect- 
ing their true interests and the necessity 
of an union, and shall have corrected the 
errors of all those who still oppose it. But 
circumstances are urgent, and the deci- 
sive moment approaches. A French army 



prepares to attack the cantons not yet 
united. Presently, 25,000 veteran soldiers* 
conquerors of the half of Europe, to whom 
no rock is inaccessible and no valley im- 
penetrable, will come, and compel you, 
sword in hand, to do that which prudence, 
and the love of your country, well under- 
stood, counsel 3 r ou now to do. 

" The executive directory in conse- 
quence invites the council of the canton 
of Unterwalden, and of the other non* 
united cantons, to send to it deputies with* 
Out delay, who may join in concerting with 
it the means of averting from their coun- 
try the storm which now threatens it. They 
will be received as brethren, and with the 
Warmth of friendship ; and we shall em- 
ploy every effort to exchange the worn-out 
tie of federalism for a strong and perpetual 
tie. Reflect, that in the meantime the 
heart of every good Helvetic citizen is 
torn by the idea which presents itself, that 
these valleys, in which formerly so much 
energy was displayed in fighting for liber- 
ty, are about to be dyed with the blood 
of a people cruelly deceived, who have 
been ordered to defend the cause of fana* 


ticism and a mistaken liberty, and who are 
thus driven to their ruin by exposing them- 
selves to the incalculable evils of war; 

"Arati, April 24 3 1798; 

<c The President of the executive directory, 


"By the directory, 

" HURXER, provisional secretary ? 

The cold and tranquil tone of this pa- 
per, so evidently contrasting with the ener- 
getic and vehement language of the con- 
federates ; the menaces of Swiss directed 
against Swiss ; that of the employment of 
the forces of a foreign power to subdue 
the inhabitants of the small cantons, whilst 
the very name of the soldiers of this power 
sufficed to irritate them ; the reproaches 
thrown out against their Magistrates and 
leaders, whilst 'they ought to have been 
gained in order to gain the people ; all 
seemed designedly combined in the ad- 
dress of the directory to paralyse its effect, 
and render it absolutely useless. 

The lower part of the canton of ITnter- 
walden wTote on April 26th" to the coun- 
cil of Schwitz these remarkable words : 
"*rhey wish to intimidate us by the pre- 
sage of an unfavourable issue : were even 


the picture they present to us to be in- 
stantly realised, we are not the less remote 
from changing our immutable resolution, 
that of defending the most just of causes, 
the cause of God and humanity." 


Q# the 22d of April, at break of day, 
about 1 ,300 men of the canton of Unter- 
walden began their march to reduce that 
part of this canton which had withdrawn 
itself from the league. Lewis Auf-der- 
Maur, a young Swiss bom at Naples, and 
Emilius Paravicini of Claris, were charged 
with the conduct of an enterprise the 
result of which was to secure to the con- 
federates the important defiles of Brunig. 
The people of Obwalden (the upper 
part of the canton) had placed an out- 
post in the wood near the village of Kerns : 
this post fired some alarm shot on ~the ap- 
proach of the troops of the Waldstaeten, 
and instantly the inhabitants of Kerns as- 
sembled under arms to the number of about 


300. They seemed determined to defend the 
entrance of their habitations ; and perhaps 
within a few instants the flames of civil 
war were about to be kindled, and the 
blood of Swiss to be shed by Swiss. 

But the voice of nature prevailed over 
mere political considerations. The peo- 
ple of Obwalden, ashamed of having obey- 
ed the imperious commands of a stranger, 
and forgotten the bonds Avhich for ages 
had united them to their neighbours of 
Unterwalden, burned with the desire of 
repairing their fault, and speedily oblite- 
rating the stain by a conduct more gene- 
rous, and more conformable to their feel- 

The chiefs entered into a parley. Those 
of the Waldstaeten demanded a passage 
by Sarnen as far as Brunig. This propo- 
sition was sent in haste to the government 
of Obwaldeu which resided at Sarnen ; and 
while the answer was waited for, the sol- 
diers of both parties intermingled ami- 
cably, and refused to hear of acting offen- 
sively towards each other. " We are bre- 
thren (said they); we will no longer fight 
except under a common standard, and 

against a common enemy, for. the main* 
tenance of our antient and dear constitu* 

The government of Obwalden, with the 
view of shielding the country from the 
horrors of war, had thought it a duty to 
persuade the people to bend to the cir-. 
cumstances which demanded a change in 
their political frame; but the menacing 
approach of the confederates, and espe-? 
cially the present disposition of the people 
of Obwalden, rendered the situation of its 
governors very critical. Not being able 
to oppose the passage which the troops of 
theWaldstaeten required, they determined 
to grant it; and a deputation was sent 
with this intelligence. But the allies were 
not contented with this first act of submisr* 
sion. They demanded of the council of 
war at Sarnen, that the assembly of the 
people should be convoked, and that its, 
vote should be taken concerning the plan 
of the constitution presented by France. 

Jt was easy to foresee what would be 
the decision of the people in this matter. 
While the allies were on the road to the 
defiles of Brunig, the general assembly of 


Obwalden solemnly decreed the mainte- 
nance of its old constitution, and the rejec- 
tion of the new ; and information of this 
was immediately given to the lower part 
of the canton of Unterwalden. Soon after, 
600 men of Obwalden went to reinforce 
the army of the allies at Brunig. 

This army, however, remained inactive 
several days, and thus lost a favourable 
opportunity*, A great part of the peo- 
ple of Oberland were ardently desirous of 
its arrival ; and nothing would then have 
been easier than to take possession of 
Hasli and the adjacent valleys. The brave 
mountaineers who dwell between the 
Grimsel and the Brunig, and they who 
live at the foot of Stokhorn and mount 
Eiger, would joyfully have ranged them- 
selves under the banners of the warriors 
of Waldstaeten to carry with them their 
rage and vengeance as far as the walls of 
Berne. This is not a hazarded supposi* 
tion ; for, when the body of troops sta- 
tioned at Brunig had orders to advance, 

* The canton of Unterwalden had forbidden, by a 
letter written April the 23d to the landshauptmanu Zel- 
ger, the passage of the Brunig till further orders. 


* I '.-* 

and entered the great and romantic valley 
of Hasli, watered by the Aar, as yet an 
infant stream ; the village of Meyringen, 
the richest and most populous of the val- 
ley, with an unanimous voice rejected the 
new Helvetic constitution which it had 
been forced to accept, and declared that 
it would take part with the allies against 
the French troops*. v" 

But it w r as already too late to expect an 
useful diversion in that quarter ; and time 
was wanting sufficient to raise the inhabi- 
tants of all the valleys, to arm and mar- 
shal t;hem so as to be put in a state for 
rendering any essential service. 

Whilst the left wing was advancing, and 
taking a position on the limits of the can- 
ton of Berne, the right wing began to 
move. And ermatt, colonel of the can- 
ton of Zug, marching at the head of 1500 
men, took possession of the free bailiwicks, 
and on April the 24th placed a garrison 
in the towns of Meyenberg, Mpuri, and 
Boswil. He did not venture to advance 
further, through fear of too much expose 
ing the limits of his canton, for the FrencJ\ 

* On April the 


were marching towards him on all sides, 
He waited till Paravicini should have 
reached the lake of Zurich, and Reding 
have taken possession of Lucerne. Dur- 
ing this interval the inhabitants of the 
free bailiwicks rose in a mass, and came 
to range themselves beneath the blessed 
standard of the Waldstaeten, armed with 
stakes, forks, clubs, and halberds. 

The French advanced posts already 
showed themselves at the villages of Da- 
likon and Haeglingen. . Andermatt, on 
April the 25th, made a movement as far as 
Wellen, and dispatched major Ilotz \ith 
* 200 men to Nieclerwyl, in order to stop the 
march, of the enemy. The next day, in 
presence of the French, he took possession 
of a height situated near Haeglingen. The 
troops engaged, and the chasseurs of Zug 
distinguished themselves greatly by their 
courage and address : they killed many oJ^ 
the enemy, who were beaten, and obliged 
to rally behind a body of cavalry which 
came opportunely to their assistance, An- 
dermatt ordered the halberdiers of the 
bailiwicks to march to oppose them ; but 
jnste^d of keeping their ground, they 

shamefully' took to flight. Then the 
French, recovered from their first check* 
and reinforced by fresh troops, recom- 
menced the attack. Andermatt was rout* 
ed, obliged to retire precipitately and in 
disorder, and to gain Mouri as well as he 
was able : he had, however, very few kill- 
ed, while the French lost many from the 
well-directed fire of the chasseurs*. 

The council of war of the Waldstaeten, 
to be more at hand for the operations of 
the army, had fixed itself at Kusnacht, 
near the lake of Lucerne. As soon as they 
were apprised of the retreat of Andermatt, 
they sent him the reinforcement of a bat- 
talion commanded by Reichenbach. This 
succour came in good time to revive the 
courage of the troops of Zug, and serve 
for a rallying point to the fugitives. 

Paravicim was also in motion. The 
town of Rapperschwyl had accepted the 
new constitution; which circumstance de* 
prived the allied army of an essential post, 
and interrupted the direct communication 

* The details of this affair are taken from a letter writ* 
ten by colonel Andermatt to the canton of Zug, from 
the head-quarters at Mouri, ?6th of -April., 1798, 


of the two banks of the lake of Zurich, 
The possession of this town was therefore 
a necessary object, and Paravicini obtain- 
ed it without the smallest difficulty. Beino* 
defenceless, it opened its gates at the first 
summons : seven hundred men of the 
troops of the Waldstaeten entered it, 
while others occupied the posts of Pfaeffi- 
kon and Wollrau, on the southern shore of 
the lake. 

The occupation of the town of Lucerne 
fey the central column was now the only 
thing wanting to put the allied army into 
the position first planned by the council of 
war. Aloys Reding, who commanded that 
column, was still posted at Kusnaeht, on 
the frontiers of that canton. 

The troops of Schwitz who were under 
his orders Avaited with impatience the sig- 
nal of attack. Every thing announced 
that it would be successful. The inhabit 
Hants of the communities of the canton of 
Lucerne came in crowds to felicitate them 
ou their enterprise, and encourage them 
to persist. " Come on I (said they) the 
first shot you fire against the town of Lu- 
cerne will be the signal of the general in- 


surrection of the canton : we will attend 
you/ and fight by your side/' 

Some fanatical priests who accompa- 
nied the soldiers still more inflamed them 
by their impassioned harangues. Two of 
them, Marianus Herzog, rector of Our 
Lady of the Hermits, and the capuchin 
Paul Styger, had long been distinguished, 
and had inspired the people of Schwitz 
with a blind confidence in them. The last 
especially, a violent and dauntless speaker, 
was the oracle of Kusnacht. He rode on 
horseback in his_capuchin's habit, with a 
brace of pistols at his girdle, holding in 
one hand a crucifix, which he called the 
genuine tree of liberty, and in the other a 
sword ; and thus paraded the ranks of the 
army. Canting and ferocious, proud and 
cringing, eloquent and well acquainted 
with mankind, he w T as soon able to gain 
the confidence of the soldiers, and to ac- 
quire the same authority over them as 
their chief, 

The council of war, seeing that the en- 
terprise against Lucerne could not with- 
out danger be longer deferred, ordered the 
necessary dispositions, and caused the 


tarch of the troops to be preceded by the 
following proclamation : 
" We cannot yet persuade ourselves that 
e French nation, if it is just, and means 
be faithful to the principles it has pro- 
fessed, will make an attempt so contrary 
to these principles, and which would 
cover it with eternal reproach. What! 
Would it aim at the destruction of the 
Swiss democracies ? of those constitutions 
which it has made its own model ? to the 
founders of which it has raised altars? 
What an astonishing and cruel contradic- 
tion ! 

" Swiss ! brothers ! there is no constitu- 
tion which promises and gives more true 
liberty than our own: we acknowledge, 
after God, no sovereign but the people; 
in its hands is the supreme power; and 
how many times has the French republic 
promised to respect its sovereignty ! 

" Let the great powers prove false to 
their promises if they judge proper; it 
belongs to us, wlio are honest.and sincere, 
to remain faithful to ours. 


" Penetrated with a sense of the justice 
of our cause, we have sworn in the face of 


lieaven to defend until death our happy 
constitution, our country and our reli- 

" Let those among you who are ani- 
mated with the same wish (and who can 
be otherwise without being unworthy of 
the Swiss name ?) tajse their places at our 
sides, and range themselves under our 
standards, the standards of freedom. A 
pure and cloudless liberty will be the re- 
ward of their generous devotion^. 

" But let the man who is base and vile 
enough, who is so little of a Swiss, as to 
consent to bow his head under a foreign 
yoke, remain at home, arid keep far from 
our cohorts: let the ambitious and the 
feeble-minded fashion themselves to the 
rule which tempts them; both will be 
crushed under it. But we, who have no 
other ambition than to be free, it is ours 
to fight and conquer. Yes, companions, 
we shall come forth victorious from the 
struggle : our fathers equally had numerous 
foes to contend with, and they were victo- 
rious. Let us imitate their example, and 
the God of justice will declare iii our fa- 


This proclamation, of which we have 
given the sense, without attaching our- 
selves positively to the letter, could not 
fail to produce a great effect on the multi- 
tude, and rally round the council of 
war the great number of malcontents in 
the town. It was every where distri- 
buted with profusion, and what was ex- 
pected from it took place : it occasioned a 
general fermentation in the canton of Lu- 

Deputies from all the parts of this can- 
ton came in crowds to solicit the troops of 
the Waldstaeten speedily to enter their 
country. They lavished the most flatter- 
ing appellations on the soldiers of the al- 
lies, calling them the saviours of the coun- 
try, the tutelar angels of the church : in a 
word, the enthusiasm caused by their pre- 
sence was at its height. The house in 
which the blessed standard of the Wald- 
staeten had been deposited was perpetu- 
ally surrounded with a crowd of people, 
who offered money only for a sight of it; 
so that the chiefs were obliged to cause it 
to be publicly exposed at Kusnacht. 

At length, in the night between the 


28 th and 29th of April the troops of tne 
Waldstaeten began their march for Lu-* 
cerne. Eeding ordered that those of Un* 
terwalden who were stationed at Stantz^- 
taad under the command of Zelger, and 
the eight hundred inen of Zug posted near 
the lake of that name., should dispose their 
march, so as to appear at the -same time 
with himself at the gates of the city. This 
order was only partially executed ; for the 
troops of Zug could not obey it, the French 
-having already passed the Reuss, and be- 
ing on their march to the chief town of 
that canton* 

At break of day the troops of Schwitz 
arrived at the summit of Wesemli and 
Mousegg, showed themselves as far as the 
walls of Lucerne; those of Unterwalden 
did the same on the other side ; but scarcely 
any of the auxiliaries of this canton made 
their appearance, although they had pro- 
mised to join the allies to the number of 
three thousand* Scarcely two or three 
hundred were got together, and these kept 

Reding then sent Emilius Paravieini to 
Lucerne with the following summons : 


" We cannot divest ourselves of the en- 
dearing habit, consecrated by a long 
, union, of addressing you as allies, and sa- 
luting you as such. Nor have we yet 
been able to persuade ourselves, that al- 
though you have had the weakness to sub- 
mit to a foreign constitution, you at the 
same time have wished to break an allir 
ance which has subsisted for ages. 

" Nevertheless, we could not but be se- 
verely afflicted to find that, yielding to 
the perfidious insinuations and menaces 
of a foreign nation, Swiss, our brothers 
and allies, had given orders to cut off our 
communication with the rest of Switzer- 
land, and, by this measure, had attempted 
by the force of famine to CQmpel us to 
abandon the happy constitution of our 
fathers, in exchange for one which ap- 
pears to all of us insupportable. 

" Moreover, your own people, still 
worthy of the Swiss name, and cherishing 
its liberty, having loudly manifested to us 
their desire to join us in defending the 
constitution of our fathers, we have re- 
solved to comply with their wishes, and to 
deliver you from the disgraceful obligation 


ffc.'^ -O^^* 1 ' f> ' ** 

which you suppose you have incurred, to act 
hostilely against ybur brethren and allies. 

"In consequence, we summon you in 
the most urgent manner to open your 
gates to us, to receive us in the quality of 
friends, allies, and brothers; and to con- 
* sent that we should make common cause 
with your people, who, as well as ours, are 
the sovereign of their country. 

" Decide do not delay: within an 
hour we shall obtain by forc6 of arms what 
you may now refuse to our friendly de- 
mands, and what we should wish to owe 
to your fraternal sentiments. . You alone 
will be responsible for all the blood which 
may be shed : open then your gates, and 
unite with us. Believe, that it is more to 
your advantage to employ your forces for 
the defence of our common country, than 
to direct them against your brethren, 
against the most antient of your allies; 
and be persuaded that the God of justice 
and vengeance will bless our united ef- 
forts. (Signed) 

"The Members/of the' pound! of War 
of the Canipfis of Sehwrte, Unter- 
walderi, Zug, and Claris."-" 


Great was the consternation in the town 
at the reading of this paper, for the num- 
ber of armed burghers was too inconsider- 
able 'to expect along defence. The citizen 
Vincent Ruttiinan, nominated within a few 
days by the Helvetic -directory, national 
prefect of this canton, accompanied by 
some other functionaries, repaired to the 
besiegers, in order to settle with them ar- 
ticles of capitulation, and by -this means 
preserve the town from the- disorders which 
might be apprehended from the rage of 
the soldiers. Security of persons and pro- 
perties was promised ; and this promise 
was communicated to the troops, with or- 
ders to enforce obedience to it. Ruttiman 
then directed the gates to be opened. The 
people of Schwitz and Unterwalden took 
possession of them, and spread tumultu- 
ously over the town. 

Meantime, the chiefs of the allies assem- 
bled at the towri-housei and determined 
upon the articles of capitulation, which 
We now present to our readers. 

T 2 



the laudable Cantons of Schwitz? 
Unterzvaldcn, Zug, and Glaris, and the 
laudable Canton of Lucerne. 

Art. 1. The free communication be- 
tween the respective cantons shall be im- 
mediately re-established, and no obstacle 
shall be made to the entry and exit of 

2. The town of Lucerne shall be guard- 
ed by peasants drawn from Entlibuch, 
and other parts of its canton. 

3. No one, either at Entlibuch or else- 
where, shall be disarmed. The arsenal 

' and the garrison shall be under the in- 
spection of the people, to whom shall be 
delivered the arms necessary for the de- 
fence of the country. 

4. It shall be free to the people to give 
themselves a constitution, and to unite 
with the allies for the support of the com- 
mon cause. 

5. The town of Lucerne shall not in- 
voke any succour against the allies ; and 
in case of its determining to act in con- 
cert with them, it engages to give them 


for auxiliaries only men taken from a part 
of the canton which has not accepted the 
new constitution. 

6. The commissaries who may have 
been sent to solicit succours shall be in- 
stantly recalled. 

7. There shall be delivered to captain 
Hedlinger, and drawn from the arsenal of 
Lucerne, the quantity of cannon and am- 
munition mentioned in an inventory made 
for this purpose. 

8. Moreover, there shall be paid to the 
allied cantons, for the expenses of the war, 
the sum of 10,000 florins; and the canton 
of Lucerne also engages to furnish them 
with corn to an equal value. 

9- The allies shall always have free 
passage through the territories of the town 
and canton of Lucerne. 

The above articles have been agreed to 
by the national prefect, and signed with 
his hand, at Lucerne, on the 29th of April, 

National Prefect. 

We must not here omit a singular and 
characteristic anecdote. The troops of 


the Waldstaeten, after having entered the 
town, immediately assembled about the 
church ; and it was their first concern to 
leave all their arms under the care of a 
few sentinels, and to enter the temple in 
order to return thanks to heaven for the 
success of their enterprise, and religiously 
to hear the mass said on the occasion. If 
the people of Lucerne had been aware, a 
score of men would have sufficed to. shut 
them up in the church, and make them alt 
prisoners of war ; but, happily for them, 
no one was struck with such an idea, and 
they performed their devotional exercises 
without molestation. 

When mass \vas finished, these warriors 
quitted the altar, and ran with noise and 
tumult to the taverns and drinking-houses, 
after which they dispersed themselves 
through the streets. The officers did all 
in their power to prevent these disorders, 
but in vain. 

The tree of liberty was overthrown in 
the midst of cries and imprecations, and 
the relics of the cap and standard, with 
which it was decorated, were carried in 
triumph about the town. 


Others went in crowds to the town- 
house, and demanded the keys of the ar- 
senal. It was in vain that the chiefs re- 
presented the injustice of this pillage, and 
appealed to the capitulation which had 
been just signed : the capuchin Paul Sty- 
ger, by telling them that every thing was 
allowed by the law of the strongest, ren- 
dered remonstrances of no avail, and en- 
couraged insubordination. The arsenal 
was therefore pillaged, and the effects 
which it contained were partly destroye'd 
and partly sold by the soldiers, or sent to" 
Brunnen on bateaus disposed for this 

purpose on the lake of Lucerne. 

But two alarming pieces of intelligence 

suddenly arrived to dissipate the intoxica- 
tion of the soldiers, and put au end to 

The messenger w^ho had been dispatched 
to Zug in the morning' with the news ot 
the capture of Lucerne, returned, saying 
that he could not pass. The French, with- 
out the smallest resistance, had taken pos- 
session of this canton, and were now 
threatening that of Schwite* 


The other bad news was, that the right 
wing w^as menaced in its position near the 
lake of Zurich by the French brigades, 
who were filing ajong the two banks. 

These events, and still more the coward- 
ly indecision of the peasants of Lucerne, 
compelled the council of war to change 
its, plans and dispositions. It held an ex- 
traordinary sitting, the result of which 
was, that instead of an offensive war, and 
the projected invasions, it should confine 
itself to the necessary measures for cover- 
ing the frontiers of the canton of Schwitz, 

The right wing received orders to main- 
tain its position at Wollrau and Rapper- 
schwyl ; and the left, then posted at Briente 
and Meyringen, to fall back to the borders 
of Obwalden, 

" "'> " 

The centre, occupying Lucerne, retired 
on the same day, and in great haste, to 
tjie territory of Schwitz, On the next 
d^y, April the 30th, the French entered 



Vv HEN, in the time of Themistocles, the 
Athenians had to sustain a long and bloody 
war for the liberty of their country, they 
made a sacrifice of their city and homes 
in order to fight more securely and with 
less anxiety. The Waldstaeten did not do 
so much;. and though all had the same 
end in view, each canton was more parti- 
cularly concerned for itself and its own 
safety. All seemed ardent for the cause 
of the confederacy, and expressed them- 
selves willing to make the fairest sacri- 
fices ; but when these were required in 
earnest, none of them consented to leave 
their own frontiers naked in order to con- 
centrate the common force, and render 
it serviceable to the whole, It follow- 
ed, that being weak at all points, the 
Allies could not expect a long resistance 
in any, and had to fear what really hap- 
pened, that they should fall victims to 
their false measures, 

, 282 

The council of war of Scliwitz repaired 
to Arth, and, by means of the troops still 
at its disposal, covei^ed the weak side of 
the canton. Six hundred men under the 
command of captain Dominic Felkle were 
posted on the road from Arth to Lucerne,. 
A hundred volunteer chasseurs formed the 
advanced gviard at the village of Kus- 
nacht. Captain Faesler was charged with: 
the defence of the defile of Saint Adrian. 
Felix Ab-Iberg at the head of his batta- 
lion supported Faesler, and occupied the, 
height of Rufiberg, which separates Arth 
from the lake of Egeri. Where this lake 
touches the limits of the canton of Schwitz. 
are the defiles of Schorno, Morgarten, and 
St. Jost near Rothenthurm. This part was 
entrusted to the guard of two battalions 
commanded by Ryehenbacher and Joa- 
chim Hediger. 

But the part of the canton of Schwitz 
adjacent to that of Zurich was the best 
defended. There were the troops of Gla^ 
ris, commanded by an experienced officer, 
colonel Paravicini ; and there were besides, 
the courageous inhabitants of the farms; 
ihe-auxiliaries of Sargans, Uznach, Garter, 


and la Marclie ; a battalion of Schwitz, 
and another of the valley of Our Lady of 
the Hermits. 

These dispositions were, scarcely finish- 
ed, when the commander in chief of the 
French army in Helvetia sent a final sum- 
mons to the allies, conceived nearly in 
these terms : 

SCHAWEXBURG, to / 7 c Inhabitants of the 
Cam oils not yet united to the Majority of 


Arau, 27 April, 1798, 

fi I might have supposed, citizens, that 
my friendly and pacific conduct, and my 
efforts to cure you of the blindness in 
which you are held by the declared ene- 
mies to liberty, would at length have con- 
vinced you of the generosity of the French 
people. How much then must I be af- 
fected in learning that a handful of fana- 


tics have dared to oppose the march of 
the troops of the great nation ! But the 
chastisement due to this temerity has been 
as swift as lightning : the rebels have bit 
the dust. 

"Some of them have fallen into my 
Jiands. I was master of their fate; but 


far from ftie be the desire of vengeance ! 
The Frenchman is terrible only in battle ; 
after victory he again becomes the friend 
of humanity. Their liberty has been re- 
stored to these wretched victims of igno- 
rance and superstition. They will return 
to you, and inform you of the treatment 
they have experienced from the victor. 

"They have been brought before the 
first authorities of Helvetia : every where 
they have heard only the words of peace 
and fraternity : of what further pretexts 
then can the apostles of fanaticism and 
revolt avail themselves ? 

" The great majority of the Helvetic 
nation has adopted the constitution : its 
legislators are incessantly employed in 
bringing it into an active state. The execu- 
tive directory is installed it is surrounded 
with the general respect and confidence 
it enjoys the support of the French govern- 
ment, and powers have been given it to 
dispose at its pleasure of an army which 
has conquered Europe, To such mighty 
preparations, what can be opposed by a 
small minority, equally factious and power- 
less ? 


Citizens, hear once more the voice of 
reason. Range yourselves under the stan- 
dard of the Helvetic constitution. Return 
to the bosom of a family of brothers who 
extend their arms and invite you. Your 
religion and your properties shall be re- 
spected : toleration is the first virtue of a 
people which knows how to be free. 

" But if you persist in your error, if 
you continue to hear the deceitful voice of 
fanaticism, you will precipitate yourselves 
into an abyss of misery. Those authors 
of your seduction, those proud hypocrites, 
who do not themselves believe in the inter-' 
vention of the monarchs whose aid they 
promise you, shall tremble: a severe pu- 
nishment awaits them.- 

" I offer you the alternative of peace and 
happiness, or war and all the calamities 
accompanying it. Make your choice; it is 
now in your power ; but choose speedily 1" 

The people received this address of 
Schawenburg with profound indignation. 
They might have replied in the same man- 
ner as the Scythians formerly did to Alex- 
ander, when, in the midst of victory, he 
appeared in their deserts with an innume- 


table army : but they did better they 
kept silence, and prepared for the combat. 
On the following day, April 30th, the 
French made an attack on Wollerau near 
the lake of Zurich. It Avas not expected 
that they would make their first efforts on 
this quarter. The affair was warm on both 
sides. The French were at first driven 
back to Richterswyl ; but being reinforced, 
they rallied in that village, defended them- 
selves for a wiiile, and then making a dex- 
terous manoeuvre, took the Swiss in flank, 
and forced them to fall back to Wollerau. 
Towards afternoon the French began a se- 
cond attack, which seemed likely to suc- 
ceed no better than the first; for they met 
ivith a vigorous resistance, which discon- 
certed and threw them into some disorder* 
Captain Hauser of Naefels, at the head of 
some volunteers, had already regained the 
height of Richterswyl, when fortune sud- 
denly deserted the allies. Hauser fell im~ 
der two severe wounds, and his men re- 
tired, carrying with them their standard, 
which had thrice passed into different 
hands, its bearers having been successively 
killed in the action. This small body, pur* 


sued by the French, reached Wollerau; 
but instead of the reinforcement they ex- 
pected, they found there nothing but con- 
fusion and disorder, owing to the absence 
of colonel Paravicini, who had received 
wounds which obliged him to abandon the 
field^of battle. The French took advan- 
tage of this circumstance, and their attack 
became more impetuous in proportion as 
they met with less 'resistance. The troops 
of Claris and all the auxiliaries took to 
flight,; and the conquerors , on the same 
evening occupied the villages of Wollerau 
and Pfaeffikon. 

The troops of the canton of Schwitz, 
who had been ordered by Paravicini to 
keep the heights which are in the vicinity 
of Hutten, had no part in the transactions 
of this day. 

We shall not pass over a small anec- 
dote relative to this affair, which does as 
much honour to the bravery and presence 
of mind of a Swiss officer, as to. the 
humanity of a French officer. Captain 
Hauser, whom we have seen dangerously 
wounded, was after the action left, bathed 

in his blood, for dead on the field. A 



Fi-encli officer, named Tressinet, who pass* 
ed near him, thought he discerned in him 
some signs of life* He approached, raisecj 
him up, and, finding that he breathed, 
cried, " Courage, comrade \" Hauser, as 
if awaking from sleep, fixed his eyes upon 
him, and in a faint voice said, " It is not 
courage but strength that fails me/' 
The Frenchman, delighted and affected 
with this reply, ordered that the wounded 
man should be instantly dressed, and treat^ 
ed with all possible attention. He was 
conveyed to Wadenschwyl, and shortly 
after w r as entirely cured of his wounds. 

On the evening of the same day, an- 
other body of French troops attacked the 
little'village of Immensee near the lake of 
Zug. The Swiss had, but few men to de- 
fend this post ; but, as the night was very 
dark, they did not retire till eleven o' clock 
in the evening, after a brisk fire of musque- 
try, by which they had some men killed. 

But a sharper and better sustained ac- 
tion took place about the same time on the 
side of Arth, near the village of Kusnacht. 
The chasseurs of Schwitz, posted advan- 
tageously,, and firing with much dexterity. 


forced the French to retreat after having 
sustained a considerable loss. 

On the next morning the inhabitants of 
Immis6e, wishing to put their cattle in 
a place of safety, had, for that purpose, 
for some minutes abandoned the very ad- 
vantageous post of Kiemen. The French 
during that time arrived in force, and, 
finding scarcely any resistance, entered the 
village, and took possession of the defile 
of Kusnacht. This place is celebrated in 
the history of Switzerland, as being that 
where William Tell, meeting with the ty- 
rant Gesler, pierced him with an arrow. 

H6re a very brisk engagement ensued. 
A body of the troops of Schwitz, hearing 
the noise of firing, ran to the spot, and in 
an instant decided the victory. The French 
took to flight, and moved off in disorder 
towards the village of Rysch in the canton 
of Zug. 

Meantime Kusnacht, protected on this 
side, was but the more exposed on that of 
Lucerne : not only a considerable number 
of French, but a pretty strong body of the 
people of Lucerne, assembled and armed 
by order of the chief town of the canton, 


threatened to attack and take this place*. 
The inhabitants of Kusnacht demanded 
succour from Schwitz, but none could be 
given them without exposing still more 
important posts. They were obliged, there- 
fore, on the morning of the gd of May, 
to surrender to the French, after having 
stipulated for security of persons and pro- 

During all these transactions, ike troops 
of Schwitz, burning with desire to be en- 
gaged, were, however, compelled to remain 
inactive in the posts they occupied on th^ 
Rufi and the Rossberg. The precipitate, 
and total retreat of the troops of Claris 
and the auxiliaries inspired them with 
great mistrust : they wishecj to measure 
their own strength with that, of 'the enemy,, 
and for that purpose sent deputies to the 
council of war a to require that the captain 
of their country, Reding, might be placed 
$t their head, and ordered to lead them 

Aloys Reding, at this period chief of the 
erfrio xuod g/xotJa ^Ustqjs ^i;d c ifoai.. 

* Report made to the council of war on the 1st of 
May by Ignatius Troutmann. 

^'^- >... JJ ix./ * 11 V'<4 iwJk.*fc>' w 4*r inf V <W *W ^r 


troops of Schwitz, and the soul of the al- 
lied army, had studied the art of war in 
the service of Spain, in which he was a 
colonel. He had lately Retired into the 
solitude of the valleys of his country, and 
devoted his leisure to friendship, to the 
muses, and to the cultivation of his lands. 
Long before the revolution, he wished for 
improvements in the federative system, 
and desired that his country should enjoy 
an useful and genuine liberty : but his 
heart revolted at the idea of a revolution 
effected by a foreign power, and at the still 
more hateful idea of seeing his country 
fall under the dominion of France. Such 
were the motives which induced him to 
nnsfeeath his sword, and to show himself 
worthy of the Swiss name, and of bis 
brave ancestors. 

His'loss of a young and tenderly-beloved 
spouse had left in his soul a deep melan- 
choly, which perhaps made him still more 
eager to engage in the hazards of war. 
Provident, frank, brave, attached to his 
country, preserving his coolness and self- 
command both in prosperity and adver- 
" u 2 

sity, he became in a short time the favour- 
ite and the hope of his people. 

He left Arth that very night, and on the 
1st of May, towards day-break, arrived at 
Schorno, at the moment when five hun- 
dred men of Uri came and joined the 
fourth battalion of Schwitz, to take pos- 
session of that important defile, and of the 
heights of Morgarten. He thence went 
to visit the post of Saint Jost, occupied by 
the first battalion of Schwitz, and a com- 
pany of volunteers of Aegeri and Men-* 
zingen in the canton of Zug, commanded 
by captain Traxler. In fine, he passed 
to that wild valley which ends at the small 
village of Schindellegi, in which captain 
Schilter at the head of a battalion arrived 
at the same time. Here he beheld a spec- 
tacle at the same time pleasing and pain- 

The inhabitants of the farms of Wol- 
lerau and of Baech had united at this spot 
to engage the French a second time. The 
unfortunate events of the 30th of April, 
the loss of several of their number, the 
burning and pillage of their cottages, the 


flight of their wives and children who had 
concealed themselves in the woods, the de- 
fection of the auxiliary troops, were all in- 
capable of diverting these brave men from 
their resolution of defending themselves to 
the last drop of blood. The soldiers of 
Schwitz could not behold this generous 
self-devotion without being moved ; and 
they gave tokens of sensibility and appro- 
bation to these faithful companions in 

Reding, still hoping that the troops of 
Claris and their auxiliaries might have 
rallied in some part of the country of la 
Marche, wrote the following letter to Pa- 

ravicini : 

ff Schinclellegi, 
1st May, 8 o'clock in the morning. 

" I have been here, my dear colonel, a 
quarter of an hour. I have heard with 
grief of your wound, and the retreat of the 
auxiliaries. The battalion of Schilter is 
extremely dissatisfied that it was only a 
spectator of the battle, and longs to fight. 
I beg and conjure you therefore to come; 
or, if you are prevented by your wounds, 
send me as soon as possible another com- 


mander and troops. Our people, and the 
brave. men of the farms^ will gladly join 
them. When once united, we wish to re^ 
pair the fortune of yesterday, and we may 
do it. 

"(Signed) ALQYS REDING." 

ii>. n?i::A& v - & 

The courier dispatched with this letter 
returned three .hours afterwards, with the 
news, that all the troops of Claris, Uznach* 
Caster, and "Sargans had disbanded, and 
retired to their own' home?, and th^t tho 
French were already at Lacheru 

Every hope of succour was therefore 
now to be renounced ; and the canton of 
Schwitz saw itself abandoned to its . awn 
native strength, with the exception of a 
few soldiers of Uri and Zug. The lower 
part of the canton of Unterwalden, me- 
naced by that of Lucerne, excused itself 
from sending its contingent, and demand- 
ed from the upper part a supply of three 
hundred men, which were however refused 
it, for Obwalden was also threatened with 
an invasion in three points. 




ALL the frontiers of the antient canton of 
Schwitz, except a small part covered by 
the Mattathal, were now exposed; and it 
was necessary with fewer than four thou- 
sand men to line an extent of near twenty- 
five leagues, and to make head against 
much superior French forces which ad- 
vanced from all quarters. The last ray of 
hope of saving the country vanished at 
this aspect of affairs. " What remains for 
Us now (said the soldiers) but to die the 
glorious death of our ancestors?" 

The effect of so many misfortunes, how- 
ever, was to augment the general enthu- 
siasm, and carry it to the highest pitch. 
The old men and children desired to share 
the glory of falling with their country. 
Women and girls employed themselves in 
dragging the cannon taken at Lucerne 
from Brunnen, and they conveyed them 
over rocks by frightful roads as far as 
Rothcnt.hurm. They were almost all arm- 
ed, and chiefly with clubs. Many of them 
hat! adopted as a mark of distinction a knot 


of white ribbon round the head. Where- 
ever they met with a coward who sought 
to withdraw himself by flight from the 
danger of his country, they stopped him, 
and forced him to re turn to the frontier, and 
take his place in the ranks of the army. 
Thus the internal police of the country 
was managed by the weaker sex, while 
their fathers, their husbands, their sons, 
their brothers, guarded the summits of the 
mountains, and faced the foe and death. 

On their parts, immovable as the rocks 
on which they stood, they waited coura- 
geously for an occasion to devote them- 
selves for their country. They wished to 
renew upon the green heights of Morgar- 
ten the sacred monument of the antient 
valour of the Swiss, and to leave to their 
posterity, if not freedom, at least a memo- 
rable example of what a free people can 
do in its defence*. 

Aloys Reding, assured of the disposi- 

'^j, ^~'~4 ". V- V.~f 
* The greater part of the inhabitants of Schwitz had 

an opinion, that in losing the form of government esta- 
blished by their ancestors, they at the same time should 
lose all liberty, civil and religious^ and become the vasr- 
sals of France, 


tion of his soldiers, turned to them, and 
thus addressed them : 

" Brave comrades, dear fellow citizens, 
the decisive moment is now at hand! 
Surrounded with enemies, abandoned by 
our friends, it remains for us only to know 
if we can bravely follow the example 
which our ancestors left us at Morgarten. 
An almost certain death awaits us. If any 
one fears it, let him retire : no reproaches 
on our part shall attend him. Let us not 
mutually deceive ourselves at this solemn 
hour, I had rather have a hundred men 
prepared for every event, and upon whom 
I can rely, than five hundred who would 
spread confusion by their flight, and by a 
perfidious retreat would fruitlessly sacri- 
fice the brave men who still resisted. As 
to myself, I promise not to forsake you, 
even in the greatest peril. DEATH AND 
NO RETREAT! If you share my resolu- 
tion, let two men come forth from your 
ranks, and swear to me in your name that 
you will be faithful to your words*/' 

* The author of this work vouches for the authenticity 
of this harangue, as well as for that of another which we 
shall soon repeat, He avers that both are given simply 


The soldiers, resting on their arms, heard 
in a kind of religious silence the words of 
their chief, and some of these hardy war- 
riors were seen melted to tears : when he 
had ceased, a thousand voices were heard : 
and " We will share your fate ! we will 
never forsake you I"' resounded on all sides. 
Two men then came from the ranks, and 
extended their hands to Reding, in sign 
of "fidelity for life and death. This treaty 
between the chief and his soldiers was 
sworn in the open air, and in the face of 
heaven, and bears the stamp of patriarchal 
manners worthy of the golden age. 
MTte night between the 1st and 2d of 
May meantime approached. From di- 
stance to distance were perceived fires 
kindled for signals. The soldiers slept on 
the ground near their arms. Aloys Reding 
repaired to the village of Rothenthurrn, 
the scattered cottages of which border the 
high road from Schwitz to Einsiedlen. He 
there found the council of war, which, in 
order to be, nearer the army, had removed 
thither from Arth. Reding took with-hiin 

and purely,, as they were pronounced on the field of bat- 
t{e, and .without. the least poetical embellishment. 


the dispositions relative to the formation 
of a second line of defence, in case it 
should be necessary to abandon the first. 

This conference, besides its importance 
from the objects discussed in it, was also 
remarkable by the presence of the cele- 
brated rector of Einsiedlen, Marian us Her- 
zog, who acted a principal part in it. This 
man was to the northern part of the can- 
ton of Schwitz, what Paul Styger was to 
the southern. Not less proud, ambitious, 
intriguing, and crafty, he even surpassed 
Jiis rival in hypocrisy and fanaticism. 
There was no excess to which he had not 
given way, no crime which he had not 
committed ; and yet the multitude, whose 
affections he had been able to captivate, 
regarded him as a model of virtue ; and 
whilst he was digging the tomb of his 
country and the church, he was proclaim- 
ed the saviour and martyr of both. Sure 
of the favour of the people, he employed 
it to the forwarding of his perfidious de- 
signs, and placed himself at the head of 
the administration of the small town of 
Einsiedlen. His power increased to such 
a degree, that be disposed at his pleasure 


of the troops of this part of the canton ; 
while the officers, to avoid being massa- 
cred by their own soldiers, rendered com- 
plete fanatics, were obliged to submit to 
his caprices without the least remon- 
strance. Not content with this, he wished 
to extend his influence over the rest of 
the canton ; and for this purpose employ- 
ed emissaries to spread through it disorder 
and disorganization. All his practices and 
cares tended to ruin the authority of the 
men who still preserved some credit with 
the people. The council of war was espe- 
cially the body whose power and influ- 
ence he laboured to undermine. 

He had caused, on May the 1st, 600 
men of Einsiedlen to occupy the import- 
ant defiles of Mount Ezel, a formidable 
bulwark of the canton of Schwitz, washed 
by the lake of Zurich, and he loudly de- 
manded of colonel Reding an officer to be 
placed at the head of this troop. But 
none of those in the battalions of Schwitz 
chose to divide the command with this 
imperious monk, well assured that the 
orders they should have to give would not 
be executed if they were contrary to the 


capricious notions of Marianus. Reding 
in consequence told the men of Einsiedlen, 
that since they had made their warlike 
preparations under the direction of their 
rector, he could send them no other chief. 
" I have no confidence (he added) in him 
whom you have taken for your leader ; I 
consider him as an enthusiast from whom 
no good is to be expected ; but I rely upon 
the courage and fidelity which distinguish 
the officers and soldiers of Einsiedlen*/' 

This warrior of a new mould arrived at 
midnight at the house where the council 
of war was assembled, and no one ventured 
to refuse him admittance. When the ques- 
tion of forming a second line of defence 
was agitated, he said, with warmth, that 
it was useless to deliberate upon this mat- 
ter, the very idea of which indicated an 
improper fear. " We shall be conquerors 
(he added) if every post be as well defend- 
ed as I mean to defend that of Schindel- 

* The Waldstaeten seemed destined to be the victims of 
their priests. The people of the canton of Unterwalden, 
as much blinded as those of Schwitz, had likewise given 
all their confidence to two capuchins, who during that 
took a leading part in their affairs. 


legl. 1 sweat to you by all the saints, that 
the soldiers of Einsiedlen and I will fight 
at this post to the last drop of our blood/' 
Before \\6 retired he renewed this oath to 
colonel Reding, and promised to give him 
immediate information of every thing im- 
portant that might occur. 

On the 3d of May, at ten in the morn- 
ing, the French, to the number of 2000 
men, appeared before the Schindellegi: 
The chasseurs engaged, and held the ene- 
iny in check almost two hours, so as to 
give time to two battalions of Schwitz to 
advance with their cannon, and take part 
in the action. An hour after noon, the 
fire of the French, which had gradually 
slackened, ceased entirely. 

The Swiss on this morning fought not 
like unexperienced herdsmen, but as well 
and bravely as veterans grown gray in the 
service. All advanced with ardour, and 
were impatient to come to the' bayonet. 
Several of them, though wounded, would 
never quit the field. A soldier, among 
others, having early received a consider- 
able wound iu his leg, and at noon a shot 
ia the body, continued to fight with the 


same courage, till a third wound in his 
arm absolutely prevented him from hand- 
ling his weapon. Then alone he thought 
it time to retire, and walked eight leagues 
to his home. Concealed behind rocks and 
trees as marksmen, there were always two 
in the same post ; and none were heard to 
lament over their own wounds, or the 
death of their comrades. Every one envied 
the lot of him who, on that memorable 
day, fell in the cause of his country. 



MEANTIME an inhabitant of Einsledlea 
arrived at the field of battle out of breath, 
and covered with dust, who informed co- 
lonel Reding that the French were passing 
Mount Ezel. He related that the rector 
Marianus came to that post at eight in the 
morning, and said to the people who 
guarded it, " My dear children, I am of 
ppinion that you will d6 best to retire to 
your own homes and lay down your arms: 
it would be useless to stay arid defend 


yourselves here, for at the other posts 
they do not think of making the least re- 
sistance/' The messenger added, that 
after this perfidious speech the traitor re- 
turned to Einsiedlen, and that the troop 
instantly dispersed. Schwitz and Einsied- 
len were thus laid open to the French. 
The troops posted at Schindellegi, in order 
not to be cut off, and to preserve a com- 
munication with Einsiedlen and St. Jost, 
were obliged to fall back. Their retreat 
was conducted in good order: the chas- 
seurs and grenadiers made the rear-guard, 
and covered the march of the main body. 
At three o'clock in the afternoon they 
reached Rothenthurm, and were there 
joined by many soldiers of the farms, who 
came to. rally under them. The action 
that day at Schindellegi cost the Swiss 25 
killed and 50 wounded. Among the latter 
was the brave captain Schilter, who died 
in consequence of his wounds. Schawen- 
burg profited of these advantages; and 
caused Mount Ezel to be passed by gene- 
ral Nouvion, at the head of 6000 men, 
with cannon and cavalry. Captain Hedi- 
ger, who defended the post of the moun- 


tain of St. Jost, was also attacked by a 
superior force. French troops advancing, 
to the number of two or three thousand, 
from Aegeri and Hutten, harassed him 
severely. Thinking himself unable to 
maintain his position, he fell back to the 
village of Rothenthurm. The whole moun- 
tain of St. Jost, and the chain of heights 
which separate it from the plain of Morgar- 
ten, were then entirely in the power of the 
French. Reding ordered captain Hecliger 
with his battalion to attack the heights in 
the vicinity of Morgarten, wiiile he himself, 
with 1200 men, remained in a state of ob- 
servation at the village of Rothenthurm. 
In the mean time the French descended 
slowly from the mountain in a formidable 
number, and formed near the village, pre- 
senting a very extended front. The Swiss 
gave them some cannon shot. Aloys Re- 
ding then drew up his force in order of bat- 
tle, marched to the enemy, caused his 
men to make a single general discharge in 
the plains, and then gave the signal, which 
they impatiently expected, of charging 
with the bayonet. At the first roll of the 
drum they sprung forwards with unexam- 


pled intrepidity and fury. Two weak bat- 
talions disregarded the advantageous posi- 
tion of the enemy, and their extreme su- 
periority in numbers : the desire of coining 
to blows with the conquerors of Europe 
was such, that, notwithstanding a brisk 
and well supported fire of musquetry, they 
passed in close ranks and good order a 
plain of 800 paces in length, without 
being in the least checked by all the 
efforts. of the French. The charging step 
soon became a run, a general rush : officers 
and soldiers contended for the honour of 
being the first to wash away, in the blood 
of the enemy, the affront offered to the 
soil of Liberty. This impetuous attack 
astonished the French, who for a moment 
were undetermined whether to fly or stand: 
but when the Swiss, preserving through 
the whole line their regularity and ardour, 
were near enough to employ their wea- 
pons, the affair was soon decided. They 
plunged their bayonets into the enemy's 
ranks, and made a horrible carnage ; and 
in less than a quarter of an hour so com- 
pletely dispersed them, that scarcely could 
they discharge a few shot in their flight. 


Within half an hour the Swiss were in pos- 
session of heights of so steep an ascent, 
that on other occasions more time would 
have been required to climb them than 
was now spent in taking them. 

In the midst of the chain of mountains 
which border the cantons of Zug and 
Schwitz, and between the lake of Aegeri 
and mount Sattel, is a pleasant and fertile 
plain, which, like a fine verdant carpet, 
admirably contrasts with the nakedness of 
the rocks on which it is, as it were, sus- 
pended : this is the plain of Morgarten. 

The French columns coming from Ae- 
geri climbed the rocks, and were advan- 
cing towards it. This plain, since the re- 
treat from Schindellegi, had remained with- 
out defence. It was extremely important 
to take possession of it, and prevent the 
enemy from making a lodgement there. 

The troops of Schwitz had fortunately 
on that very day received a reinforcement, 
not very considerable, indeed, but to them 
highly valuable. Three hundred fresh 
troops arrived from Uri under the com- 
mand of Schmid, landeshauptman of the 


Instantly, fifty chasseurs of this body 
detached themselves from the rest, and 
marched in haste to Morgarten. A hun- 
dred and fifty of their countrymen, and 
part of the general levy of Steinen*", fol- 
lowed them with equal speed. A battalion 
sent by Reding proceeded thither at the 
same time by the village of Rothenthurm. 

But during this interval the French had 
arrived at the summit of the mountain 
which commands Morgarten, and were 
re-descending it, marching towards that 
part of the plain which touches on mount 
SatteL As soon as they perceived the 
fifty chasseurs, they made a continued 
fire upon them; which these smartly re- 
turned, and were able to retard the march 
of the enemy, till the battalion coming 
from Rotlienthurm had climbed the emi- 
nence which separates it from the plain, 
and taken them in flank. The fire then 
becoming more brisk, echoed on all sides. 

* Steinen is a parochial village situated two leagues from 
Sehwitz,, and remarkable for the beauty of its site. Wer- 
ner of Stauffach had his house there; and the country pre- 
serves-the tradition of a saying of Gesler on viewing it, 
" Can it be endured that a peasant should be so agreeably 
lodged r> 


The hundred and fifty men of Uri, and 
those of Schwitz, finding the action begun, 
redoubled their speed to share in the glory 
and danger of their brethren. 

As soon as all had joined, they no 
longer thought of amusing themselves with 
shooting. The general charge was beat, 
and as quick as lightning the Swiss rushed 
among the French r&nks, and were again 
successful in putting them to the rout 
The two battalions of Rothenthurm at- 
tacked also on their side, and chased the 
enemy as far as the opposite heights* 
Twice they attempted to rally, and twice 
the children of William Tell obliged them 
to retire in disorder; and presently the 
plain of Morgarten, the memorable thea- 
tre of Swiss valour*, was entirely cleared. 
The enemy, whose plan had been to make 
an attack on two different points, totally 
failed in their double enterprise. 

The French, pursued to the bottom of 
the village of Aegeri in the canton of Zug, 
attempted to rally a third time, but in 

* It was in this plain that the Swiss, commanded by 
an old man, the antient landamman Rodolph Reding of 
Biberegg, obtained a complete victory over a much more 
numerous army of Austrians, on the 15th of November, 

310 \ 

vain. They would have been driven much 
further, had not the pursuers apprehended 
being intercepted if they advanced too 
far, as mount Ezel was not covered. 
The Swiss, therefore, satisfied with having 
chased the foe from the plain of Morgar- 
ten and the mountain of St. Jost, reposed at 
the approach of night from the glorious 
toils of the day. 

The battalion which was stationed at 
Meyringen in the valley of Hasli, un- 
der the command of lieutenant-colonel 
Aloys Gwerder, having arrived on that day 
about noon at Schwitz, where they were 
apprised of the desertion of mount Ezelj 
immediately resumed their march, and 
with all speed took the road of Haggen- 
Egg, in order to get before the enemy, 
and secure this important post. The sol- 
diers of this battalion, not allowing them- 
selves either rest or refreshment, pushed on 
with so much alacrity, that they were on 
the summit of this lofty mountain before 
three in the afternoon. In less than twenty- 
four hours they had crossed above twenty 
leagues of country, through very fatiguing 



ON T the next day, May the 3d, at three 
o'clock in the morning, the French advan- 
ced to the Swiss posts which defended the 
town of Arth on the side of the canton of 
Zug. The warmest action took place near 
the chapel of St. Adrian. The whole line, 
from the margin of the lake to the highest 
summits of mount Rufi, an extent of more 
than a league, was guarded on both sides 
by small detached platoons. The French 
dexterously profited of every advantage of- 
fered them by the position of the Swiss, 
which was not the best for defence. The 
latter soon began to be thrown into a 
little disorder: some of their marksmen, 
deceived by the darkness, which was not 
yet entirely dispersed, drew too forwards, 
and found themselves suddenly between 
two fires, exposed to the balls of their 
friends and their enemies. The action 
lasted without intermission near an hour 
and a half. 

The French first gave way. The well- 
aimed fire of the chasseurs killed them 


many men, and spread confusion in their 
ranks. They retired in haste; but the 
Swiss were too weak to pursue them. 
Some volunteers of Walchwyler in the 
canton of Zug rendered the greatest ser- 
vice in this affair ; they' lost six of their 
number ; the people of Sehwitz, twenty, 
and as many wounded. 

Scarcely had the last shot been fired 
on this side, when the same post of Arth 
was attacked on that of Lucerne. A great 
part of the 18th demi-brigade of the line 
had advanced towards this town, and were 
yet at the distance of a short half-league, 
when the Swiss too soon made a discharge 
upon them with grape shot. Instantly the 
French disappeared from the high road 
and the plain, and wheeled to the left in 
order to turn the height. 

The Swiss, posted on the back of mount 
Tobel, behind small entrenchments of fas- 
cines and stones, could not at first per- 
ceive the manoeuvre of the French, whose 
motions were covered by a little interja- 
cent wood ; and they did not descry their 
clangor till the enemy was very hear them. 
They then ran to take possession of the' 



highest eminence, but arrived too late ; the 
French were already masters of it. 

Others of the Swiss in the meantime 
ventured into the obscure passes of the 
Tobel, in order to gain the opposite side 
of Arth, and the remainder entrenched 
themselves on the declivity of the moun- 
tain. For this purpose were constructed 
immediately small parapets, behind which 
the soldiers posted themselves in order to 
load and fire in greater security. On this 
occasion, more than one chasseur, served 
by children, who loaded his arms and 
brought them to him, made a well-sup- 
ported , fire by himself. The French, on 
their parts, fired with great quickness, but 
with a bad aim. The Swiss, on the con- 
trary, fired seldom, but levelled exactly, 
and never missed their mark. At length, 
after a long discharge of musquetry, the 
French again withdrew, and returned to 
their camp near Oberimniensee. Their 
loss was, doubtless, considerable, but it 
could never be fairly estimated. They 
themselves threw many of their dead into 
the lake. Many were found dispersed 
among the rocks and hidden in the bushes ; 

but the greater part were carried off the 
field along with the wounded, according 
to the usual practice of the French. The 
Swiss were very fortunate in this combat, 
having no more than three killed and 
twelve wounded. 

There was an apprehension during the 
battle that ammunition would fall short, 
and that the fire could not be supported 
till the arrival of a supply expected from 
Schwitz. As soon as the circumstance 
was known, the inhabitants of all the 
neighbouring houses ran and brought th$ 
soldiers powder and lead, and even their 
pewter utensils, and that in such quan- 
tity, that although much was melted upon 
the spot into bullets, a considerable part 
was taken back as superfluous. 

"The body of troops stationed at Rothen- 
thurm had in like manner passed the night 
from the 2d to the 3d of May under arms, 
in constant expectation of an attack. They 
had, therefore, during four times twenty- 
four hours patiently endured almost incre- 
dible fatigues, to which they were ne^ 
cessitated through the scarcity of mew, 
which obliged the soldiers at this *ppst to 


be constantly in service. On this night 
every one reflected in silence upon the 
critical situation in which he stood. The 
last events were the subject of general me- 
ditation. Hitherto they had fought every- 
where with success; but each of these ad- 
vantages had cost about a hundred men 
a-day killed, besides many wounded. It 
was easy to calculate, that, in fighting 
continually at this expense and with equal 
good fortune, the Swiss, in less than fifteen 
days, would sink under the weight of their 
victories. The posts of Rothenthurm, of 
JSchorno, and of Arth, were, indeed, well 
guarded ; but how was it possible to pre- 
vent the French, already masters of mount 
Ezel and Einsiedlen,from passing Haggen- 
Iberg and the Holtz-Egg, which, for want 
of men, were defended only by women; 
and then from pushing as far as Schwitz, 
and inundating the whole country? 



THESE natural reflexions presented them- 
selves to the mind of every soldier during 
the darkness of the night. As soon as the 
morning began to dawn, every one ap- 
proached his neighbour, and communi- 
cated to liim his just apprehensions. Pre- 
sently, the question was agitated, whether, 
in the present circumstances, it would not 
be better to try to obtain an honourable 
capitulation, than to persist in defence 
without the hope 6f succeeding. 

It is impossible to relate how different 
opinions were on this head, and how vi- 
gorously they were supported. The dis- 
cussion became extremely warm. Many, 
indignant that such a thing should be pro- 
posed by Swiss, yet feared lest the love of 
life, and the considerationrof a manifest 
danger, should incline the majority to de- 
clare for capitulation, and lest the mino- 
rity, notwithstanding their heroism, should 
be forced to submit. 

" No!' (cried. a great number) no capi- 
tulation! Let us rather die for our coun- 
try ! Let us all die in defending it with 
our last breath!" Others, who wished the 


same thing, but endeavoured to obtain it 
by more moderate discourse, cried, " We 
will not ask to capitulate till two-thirds of 
us shall have bitten the dust, and lain ex- 
tended upon the same bed of honour in 
which our fathers perished. Is this a sacri- 
fice too considerable to their memory and 
to that of our liberty ?" But the fathers of 
families, thinking of their wives and chil- 
dren, spoke in this manner: u Comrades, 
consider well what you are going to do ! 
When our ancestors sacrificed themselves 
on the same field of battle which we now 
occupy, victory and their country's free- 
dom were the recompense of their death. 
But, with the same courage and resolution 
to devote ourselves, w r hat would it avail? 
Supposing we were to fight to the last man 
in order to destroy a greater number of our 
enemies, they who remained unhurt, who 
would still be numerous, would trample 
our dead bodies under foot, and then come 
with redoubled fury to massacre our wives 
and children, and fill our valleys with 
blood and slaughter/' 

Others, who had long been sensible of 
the necessity of improvements in the go- 
vernment of the state, but regarded them 


as hurtful and disgraceful if dictated by ^ 
foreign power, now raised their voices 
more freely, and said, that if a capitula- 
tion could secure religion and property, 
and preserve the country from forced con- 
tribution, it would be prudent to consent 
to it, and to unite with the rest of Switzer- 
land, in order to form with it one and the 
same family. They who urged this opi- 
nion supported it by observing that such 
a change would not occasion the loss of 
liberty, but only of the present form of go- 
vernment, which w^ould be exchanged for 
one equally popular. 

After much tumult, and many very 
warm contests, the majority came over to 
this latter opinion; and in the present 
state of general exhaustion, it was agreed 
to give ear to the proposals^ of Schaweu-' 

When the people had declared them- 
selves, Aloys Reding wrote to th'e French 
general Nouvion to demand a suspension 
of arms, and sent captain Bueler with 'the 
letter to the convent of Our Lady o'f the 
Hermits, where the general then was. 
The captain returned in the evening with 
the following reply; 


To the Commander of the Swiss Troops* 

<c Convent of Notre Dame des Hermites, 
14 Florealj year 6. 

" I have received, monsieur le com- 
mandant, your letter written in the Ger- 
man tongue, which I have caused to be 
translated. In order to convince you how 
much the French are friends to humanity, 
I send you back your officer, and make 
you the following proposals : 

" 1. Half ^an hour after the receipt of 
this, the troops of the canton of Schwitz 
shall lay down their arms, and resign them 
to a French officer deputed for this pur- 
pose, who shall promise them, in the ge- 
neral's name, that they shall be deposited 
in a safe place within the canton. 

"'2. The people of the canton of Schwitz 
shall accept the Helvetic constitution. 

" I have acknowledged to the general 
in chief the receipt of your letter, and com- 
municated to him my answer. The rela- 
tive position of the French army and of 
yours will doubtless engage you to accept 
without delay the conditions I offer. 

" (Signed) 
" NOUVION, general of brigade,^ 


Even before Buelcr arrived with this 
letter, intelligence was received that the 
troops of Uri had suddenly abandoned 
their post, and returned to their own can- 
ton. Hitherto the post of Schorno had 
been guarded by them, and it was now 
defenceless: it was therefore necessary 
that the Swiss stationed at Rothenthurm 
should weaken themselves by detaching a 
large part of their number to cover this 
important position. 

This unexpected retreat greatly contri- 
buted to convince the people of the neces- 
sity of a capitulation. As soon as the let- 
ter of Nouvion had been communicated 
to the troops, they required that an ar- 
mistice of twenty-four hours should be 
immediately demanded of the general in 
chief, in order that the people might have 
time to convene in a general assembly; 
and that it should also be stipulated with 
him, that besides security for religion, 
persons, and property, the canton of 
Schwitz should also obtain an assurance 
of not being occupied b} r French troops. 

The landeshauptmann Reding then 
wrote as follows to general 4 Schawen- 



" You cannot be ignorant that in these 
cantons the exercise of supreme power is 
in the hands of the people, and that, con- 
sequently, the object of your letter of this 
day must be that of the deliberation of 
our general assembly. But as the delay 
which you grant us is too short for con- 
voking and holding such an assembly, I 
request you, in the name of my dear 
fellow-citizens, to consent to prolong it 
twenty-four hours, and also that this poor 
country should be exempt from the quar- 
tering of troops. 


"3d May, 1798." 

Captain Bueler, charged with this dis- 
patch, and with verbal instructions, re- 
turned a second time to Our Lady of the 
Hermits, whither the general in chief, 
Schawenburg, was in the mean time ar- 
rived. A capitulatiori was discussed and 
agreed upon as follows : 

" At the head -quarters of Notre Dame des Her- 
mitesj 14 Floreal, year 6 of the French Re- 
public . 

" The general in chief of the French 


army in Helvetia declares by these pre- 
sents to M. Aloys Reding commanding 
the troops of the canton of Schwitz, that 
no infringement shall be made upon the 
catholic religion professed by this canton, 
since the Helvetic constitution, accepted 
by the major part of Switzerland, expressly 
secures liberty of worship* 

" On its part, the canton of Schwitz en- 
gages to adopt the constitution within the 
space of twenty-four hours. In conse- 
quence of this engagement, the general in 
chief promises to suspend all hostilities, 
and to leave to that part of the canton not 
yet occupied by the French troops, the 
arms at present in their possession. 

"The commander of the troops of the 
canton of Schwitz also obliges himself to 
retire to the interior part, and to commit 
no hostility, until the body of the people 
shall have passed their vote on the consti j 
tution. The result shall be immediately 
communicated to the general in chief. 

" The present convention, of which a 
duplicate is made, shall be signed on one 
part by the general in chief, and on the 
other by M. Bueler, who is furnished to 


this effect with full powers from the com 
mander of the troops of Schwite* 

" BUELER, captain/' 

These articles were communicated in 
the night from the 3d to the 4th of May 
to the troops under arms at Rothenthurm, 
and afterwards published with all speed to 
the country, with the injunction to all 
and each to appear at eleven o'clock in 
the morning at the general assembly of 

The people, in consequence, assembled. 
About the hour of noon, the soldiers 
of Morgarten, of Rothenthurm, and of 
Schorno arrived at Schwitz. There were 
only those of Arth, who, guarding the two 
banks of the lake on the side of Zug and of 
Lucerne, would not abandon their post: 
indeed, they could not have appeared at 
the general assembly at the appointed 



THE spectacle afforded by this assembly 
was solemn and awful. All the people 
were armed, as they came from the field 
of battle; some with musquets, some with 
carabines, many with stakes, clubs, and 
halberds. Every face wore the impres- 
sion of the grief and consternation which 
reigned in every heart. 

After a short harangue, suited to the 
circumstances, pronounced by the antient 
landamman Schueller, who was president 
for the time, the prayer usual -on such an 
occasion was recited, and all the people 
fervently implored the divine Being to be 
gracious to them, and to enlighten them as 
to their conduct. What a spectacle, that 
of a body of citizen-soldiers raising their 
hearts to the Deity, and addressing to 
him their vows for the safety of their 
country ! 

The capitulation was then read. Cap- 
tain Bueler added, that general Schawen- 
burg had given him a verbal assurance, 
that no requisitions of men or money 


should be made in the canton of Schwitz. 
Aloys Reding then spoke. He gave an 
account of the recent events; of the posi- 
tion of the French and the Swiss; of the 
retreat of the troops of Uri, and of four 
hundred men of Unterwalden, who, having 
arrived that morning at Brunnen to act 
as auxiliaries to the canton of Schwitz, 
had marched back the instant they learned 
that a capitulation was in treaty. He 
concluded his discourse with advising to 
adopt the capitulation. 

. When he had finished speaking, a letter 
was presented to the assembly, addressed 
to it by the dean Tanner, one of its most 
venerable pastors. This respectable old 
man expressed himself in the following 
terms : 

"Dear and faithful fellow-citizens, 
" In tEe painful and dangerous cir- 
cumstances attending our beloved coun- 
try, I have thought myself obliged in con- 
science to address you by letter, since my 
age and infirmities have rendered me un- 
able to come and speak to you in person. 
Listen then to the words of a poor priest, 
who has indeed little merit, but who, du- 

ring the fifty-two years complete of his 
officiating among you, has always done 
all that lay in his power for religion and 
his country/ My dear brethren, hear in 
the name of God the voice of reason, and 
learn to endure what you cannot avoid. 
Would you then, now that we are forsaken 
by all our allies, by prolonging a dis-* 
astrous resistance, sacrifice with yourselves, 
your wives, your children, and consequent^ 
ly your country ? Ah ! my dear brethren, 
when a choice is to be made between two 
inevitable evils, let us prefer the least. If 
security is given you for your religion, 
your persons, and your properties, con-, 
elude speedily. Hope $nd trust in your 
God. Be united, and endeavour soon to 
procure to yourselves peace and tran^ 

"ANTONY TANNER,,elean and rector, 

^Muttathal., 4th May, 179,8." 

Hitherto the people had been sufficient* 
ly calm ; but when \t was necessary to 
come to a final decision, a murmur arose 
on all sides, which soon became a general 
tumult, Opinions appeared more <it va- 


riance than ever. It was the last combat 
between inclination and necessity, the last 
convulsions of expiring democracy. 

Comparisons were made between what 
had been done by their ancestors in the 
cause of liberty, and what remained for 
them to do ; estimates were formed of the 
loss to be undergone by the sacrifice of a 
constitution sanctioned by ages of peace 
and happiness : the new one, of which the 
advantages could not be known, was op- 
posed to it: in fine, a parallel w r as drawn 
between the past and the future, the cer- 
tain and the uncertain. Some beheld in 
the new order of things the destruction of 
all religion : others recollected the oath 
they had taken to die rather than submit 
to it ; and the greater part said that the pro- 
mises of the French were not to be relied on. 

The clashing of these different opinions 
augmented the heat of discussion. The v 
declarations for and against became ex- 
tremely noisy ; and it was in vain that the 
most moderate attempted to restore tran- 
quillity. Many retired from the assembly, 
in order to give a free vent to their grief. 

This confusion, or rather storm, had 


already lasted more than an hour. 
Menaces were heard; drawn sabres and 
charged muskets were prepared to shed 
the blood of an assembly of brothers. The 
people, surrounded with foreign enemies, 
seemed to spare them the trouble of their 
destruction, and determined to be their 
own executioners. 

At length, the canon Schueller, a man 
esteemed by the people on account of his 
virtuous and irreproachable conduct, as- 
cended the tribune. Every one imme- 
diately uncovered, according to the cus- 
tom of the country when an ecclesiastic 
speaks in the assembly. By insensible 
degrees silence was restored, and Schu- 
eller took advantage of it to utter with 
dignity, but with a broken and sorrowful 
voice, the following sentences : 

" My dear fellow-citizens ! if ever fra- 
ternal concord and sober recollection 
were necessary, they are certainly so at 
the present moment. The question now 
to be discussed is not which of two con- 
stitutions is the best, but whether we are 
to choose peace or war? You know your 
situation; you know that courage and 


bravery can no longer do any thing to- 
wards saving our constitution: we want 
hands, and consequently a longer defence 
is become impossible. These were the rea- 
sons which yesterday induced you of your 
own accord to speak of a capitulation. 
The general in chief of the French army 
gives you one which is honourable to your- 
selves, and secures your religion and pro- 

" You say that you have sworn to die 
rather than accept the constitution. Far 
be it from me to exhort you to perjury ! 
but when you took this oath, you were of 
opinion that your religion would be en- 
dangered by it : if then the capitulation 
makes you secure on this head, the mo- 
tive of your oath no longer existing, the 
oath itself ought to be regarded as null 
and unbinding. You may then accept 
the constitution without remorse of con- 

"You further assert that no faith ought 
to be given to the promises of the French. 
Are you consistent in holding this lan^ 
guage ? Do you not at this very moment 
give them the greatest proof of confidence, 


V 1 

since upon the faith of their word of ho* 
nour you are assembled here to deliberate 
on the fate of your country, whilst your fron- 
tiers on all sides are defenceless, and your 
cannon and ammunition, under the fee- 
ble guard of a few men, might be taken 
from you in an instant if the French were 
desirous of doing so ? If you grant them 
so much confidence at a time when they 
are still your enemies, and are at your 
gates, why should you withhold it from 
them when they shall be at a distance, 
and become your friends ? 

" We have but a few hours of suspen- 
sion of arms remaining : l&t us not employ 
them in idle quarrels and useless discus- 
sions. Let us be wise and moderate. If 
you prefer war, lose no time, fly to your 
posts and defend your country ; but if, on 
the contrary, you wish to put a stop to the 
effusion of blood ; if you mean to consent 
to a capitulation which protects your re- 
ligion, persons, and properties ; do not de- 
lay to make known this intention to the 
French general, that hostilities may cou- 
tinue suspended, and that fathers may be 
restored to their children, children to their 


fathers, and husbands to their despairing 
wives. May God Almighty illuminate 
you, and send his blessing on your reso^ 
lutions \" 

Whilst Schueller was speaking, he was 
thrice interrupted by the murmurs of the 
people, and thrice desired to go on with 
his discourse. At length the storm sub- 
sided, and silence was restored, His pro- 
posals were listened to with Attention : the 
vote was put upon the essential object, 
and the capitulation was adopted -by a 
very great majority. About a hundred 
men only opposed the measure. 

They then proceeded to the nomination 
of four deputies to be sent on the next day 
to general Schawenburg. A committee 
jjvas appointed to regulate the other in- 

On the evening of the same day, the 
following letter was written to Scha\v- 
enburg : 


' By the letter which you have address- 
ed tp pur fellow citizen Aloys Reding, and 
>vjiich has been communicated to us in 


our general assembly, we have seen with 
satisfaction that you promise us the free 
exercise of our religion, the security of 
our persons, and the preservation of our 
arms and properties. 

" Convinced and persuaded of your 
good faith, and of that of the French na- 
tion, we have resolved, on these condi- 
tions, to accept the new Helvetic consti- 
tution. The citizens Aloys Reding, Jacob 
Kastell, major Bueler, and secretary An- 
tony tJlrich, chosen from among us, will 
to-morrow wait upon you, citizen-general, 
in order to give you verbal assurance of 
this resolution, and to settle with you the 
further dispositions. According to your 
desire, we have communicated your in- 
tentions to the canton of Uri>; and we now 
request of you to give orders for the ter- 
mination of hostilities, and to Withdraw 
your troops $ as we hai* e Ictene ours. We 
flatter ourselves that you will give a fa- 
vourable reception to our deputies, and 

.V A R 'lW3!Q''V r i" %> iTI 

we present to you the assurance of our 
distinguished consideration. 

" Schwitz, 4th of May, 1798. 
r.; -;., oJ DdJftoi^L'izuiiOo as-jd aeif 


" In the name of the people of the can- 
ton of Schwitz, 

(Signed) " BUELER, statthalter. 
" ULRICH, secretary." 

The letter of general Schawenburg on 
the subject of the canton of Uri, which is 
alluded to in the preceding, arrived dur- 
ing the holding of the assembly, and was 
as follows : 

" Head-quarters of Notre Dame des Hermites/ 
1 5 Floreal, year 6 of the French Republic. 

" The General in Chief of the Helvetic Army 
to M. Aloys Reding. 

" sir,, 

"' I am certain that the troops of the 
canton of Uri, united with yours, acted 
together with them against the French 
troops ; and as I treat with you, I am to 
suppose that what shall be agreed on for 
the canton of Schwitz shall be applicable 
to all. I cannot imagine that the canton 
of Uri means to treat separately, and 
bring upon itself disagreeable conse- 
quences. I therefore request you, sir, to 
communicate to it rny intentions ; and at 


the same time 1 apprise you, that should 
it happen (which, however, I cannot be- 
lieve) that the canton of Uri should refuse 
to accede to the capitulation you hate ac^ 
cepted, I shall be compelled to pass 
through the canton of Schwitz with the 
troops under my command* 

" This measure, however, need not dis- 
quiet you : I promise you, sir, to respect 
persons and property, and this promise 
shall not be violated. I beg you to ac- 
quaint me as speedily as possible with 
your determination in this respect; and 
for the sake of humanity, as well as for 
the happiness of the Swiss nation, it is 
my wish that this war may soon be termi* 

" I am, sir, with entire consideration, 

" Yours, &c* 
(Signed) " SCHAWENBUR.G/* 



BY virtue of the capitulation, the French 
withdrew from the limits of the canton of 
Schwitz; and, far from indulging senti- 
ments of rancour and hatred against the 
inhabitants, took pleasure in paying ho- 
mage to their valour. Schawenburg him- 
self, who, at the commencement of the 
war, had never mentioned them but with 
contempt, and had rendered their chiefs 
responsible with their lives and fortune^ 
for the consequences of their resistance, 
was in the end obliged to grant them all 
his esteem. He rendered them due jus- 
tice in several letters published at that 
time, and became the friend of Aloys 
Reding, the general of an army of herds- 
men, whom Schawenburg could never 

i ' "* *"* i-'* 


* M. Posseltj in his gazette of Tubingen, asserted at 
the time that Schawenburg and Reding, while they made 
war against each other, mutually employed gross abuse, 
and threatened each other in case one should make pri* 
soner of the other. This anecdote is totally destitute of 


The losses undergone by the French in 
their different actions with the small can- 
tons were very considerable, in compa- 
rison with those of their adversaries : they 
may be estimated in the proportion of ten 
to one. An exact computation made at 
Lucerne states their killed at 2754. The 
number of their wounded \vas never cer- 
tainly known, but it was very probably 
still greater. The troops of the Waldstae- 
ten, according to the parish registers, very 
exactly taken, lost 236 men killed, and 
only 195 wounded- This evident dispro- 
portion between the killed and wounded 
can only be explained by the obstinacy 
with which the confederates fought. Dur- 
ing the action they paid no regard to their 
wounds, but remained in their posts, suf- 
fering themselves to be cut in pieces, 
without ever asking quarter, as they never 
gave it. They feared, more than death, 
being prisoners to the French : born free, 
they resolved to die free. They thought 
it sweet to sprinkle with their blood their 
natal soil, and to find the bed of death on 
the fields rendered illustrious by their an- 


No monument has been raised to per- 
petuate the memory of their valour, and 
bear their names to posterity ; but as long 
as the sterile rocks of Schindellegi shall 
endure, as long as the plains of Morgarten 
shall be carpeted with verdure, the re- 
membrance of their deeds shall not perish. 
They will be recorded in the annals of 
history after the heroic actions of the age 
of William Tell, and will add new lustre 
to the Swiss name. 

The inhabitants of the small cantons 
were not insensible to the testimonies of 
esteem and consideration given them by 
the French general. The provisional go- 
vernment of Schwitz, composed of seven 
members, regarded it as one of its first 
duties to express its acknowledgments to 
Schawenburg. But after having discharged 
this debt, it hastened to acquit itself of 
another, which was that of taking care 
of the wounded, and giving relief to the 
widows and orphans of the defenders of 
their country. Through the whole canton 
a voluntary collection was ordered, the 
produce of which was applied to these 
works of beneficence. 


The fate of the canton of Schwitz was 
decided when the inhabitants of Pfaeffikon 
and Wollerau gave another affecting proof 
of their attachment to their antient mas- 
ters, from whom they had no longer any 
thing to hope or fear. They warmly soli- 
cited general Schawenburg to suffer them 
to be united to the canton of Schwitz. 
They repeated the same solicitations to 
the magistrates of the cantons, who, sen- 
sible of their generous affection, used all 
their influence, as well with the Helvetic 
directory as with the general in chief, to 
obtain this union. Schawenburg thought 
the demand just, but it was not in his 
power to grant it ; and the Helvetic go- 
vernment, having already completed the 
territorial division of the republic, found 
the change impracticable. 

The canton of Schwitz farther experi- 
enced in the last moments of its indepen- 
dence a satisfaction of which, perhaps, 
no other state in the confederacy could 
boast; that of having seen the countries 
which were its subjects raltying round it 
in the hour of clanger, and exerting all 
their strength in its defence. Kusnacht, 


for example, had resisted the French anna 
as long as it could preserve the hope of 
being succoured by the canton of Schwitz. 
The country of la Marche had protected 
with 800 men that part of the frontiers 
which borders on the canton of Zurich, 
The brave inhabitants of the farms had 
carried their generous devotion to the 
cause much further : they had abandoned 
their dwellings and properties to partake 
the fate of their antient masters, while the 
French were in possession of their houses. 
The people of Einsiedlen, perhaps the 
most courageous and resolute of all, would 
also have made the greatest sacrifices for 
the canton, had they not beeri unworthily 
seduced by the priest who counselled them 
to desert the guard at mount Ezel. 

Such is the history of the struggle and 
the destruction of the small cantons of 
Switzerland. One of them, that of Schwitz, 
fell like the rest, but not till it had dis- 
played all the energy of a truly republi- 
can people* Faithful to its duties as a 
confederate state* proud of its liberty, and 
of the honour of the country, it was for- 
merly the first to take up arms against the 


house of Austria in asserting its indepen- 
dence, and was the last to lay them down 
in the resistance to French domination. 
Europe, a witness of the valour of the 
Swiss mountaineers, admired their efforts, 
and now laments their fate. 





J7 HE conclusion of the preceding narra- 
tive exhibits the reluctant submission of 
a brave and free people to the dictates of 
a power which they were wholly incapable 
of resisting. But submissions extorted by 
force are likely to last no longer than while 
the immediate impression of that force 
continues ; and the people of the demo- 
cratical cantons had already sufficiently 
shown that they were not formed to bow 
patiently under the yoke of despotism. 
No one will therefore wonder that the 
struggle was not yet entirely ended ; and 
that a very short period elapsed before the 
bloody contest was partially renewed. 

It is affirmed that the French directory 
was highly displeased with the moderation 
of Schawenburg in his treaty with the de- 
mocratical cantons, and urged him to find 

; 342 

some pretext for breaking it. The impo- 
sition, by the Helvetic assembly at Arau> 
of 'a civic oath of allegiance to the new 
constitution gave the desired occasion : for 
its terms were so repugnant to the feel- 
ings of many members of the antient con- 
federacy, that they refused to take it. 

Menaces were immediately employed 
by the French general against the refrac* 
tory, by which the greater part werfe ter- 
rified into acquiescence. But the canton 
of Unterwalden, now taking the lead in 
resistance, steadily refused to comply; 
and, in consequence, measures were taken 
to compel it. On September 8th, 1798, 
Schawenburg with a great force entered 
the canton. The rustic inhabitants assem- 
bled to oppose him, and by their deter- 
mined valour, though half-armed and un- 
disciplined, on the first day arrested his 
progress. Fresh battalions of the French 
poured in, and the second day's fight ended 
in the total overthrow of the unhappy na- 
tives. Animated by the rage , of despair, 
both sexes and all ages rushed to the com- 
bat, and fell in an indiscriminate mas- 
sacre. The conquerors, roused to venge- 


ance by their losses, pursued their victims 
into the houses and churches, and made 
unsparing havock. Stantz, the capital of 
the district, was stormed, and, with the 
villages of its beautiful valley, was com- 
mitted to the flames. The work of devas- 
tation was completed, and even the cattle 
were slaughtered. 

In the midst of this horrid scene, two 
hundred men of Schwitz, who came to 
puccour their allies, finding they arrived 
only to be spectators of their ruin, rushed 
upon the ranks of the French, and were 
cut off to a man. 

This dreadful example put a^ end to all 
further resistance. It is probable, indeed, 
that the conduct of Unterwalden was con- 
sidered by the other Swiss as proceeding 
only from popular violence and incon- 
-sideration; yet the assembly at Arau might 
have spared themselves the infamy 'of 
congratulating Schawenburg on the mas- 
sacre of their countrymen, and express- 
ing their regret that they had not been 
personally engaged in the suppression of 
this rebellion. 

Switzerland soon -experienced the fate 


of a country pacified by foreign conque- 
rors, and mocked with a nominal inde- 
pendence held under their good pleasure. 
The new constitution which made it a re- 
public, one and indivisible, gave it a di- 
rectory and legislature exactly upon the 
French plan; and when they proceeded 
to the exercise of sovereignty, they were 
told that, notwithstanding their indepen- 
dence, they were to act under the direc- 
tion of France in every thing which, how- 
ever remotely, affected her interests. They 
were, in short, like all the other repub- 
lics constituted by French influence, en- 
tirely subservient to the great nation. As 
a legitimate consequence vof this state of 
tutelage, the French commissary-general 
seized upon all the stores and treasures 
belonging to the public throughout Switz- 
erland ; and although some spirited re- 
monstrances against this rapine were made 
by the legislative body, no redress could 
be obtained. 

In the year 1799 the small cantons were 
the theatre of a most bloody campaign 
between the Austrians and Russians on 
one side, and the French on the other, 


and torrents of blood were shed in an un- 
interrupted series of actions, which at 
length terminated in putting the French 
again in possession of these unhappy coun- 
tries, from which they had first been expel- 
led. A Swiss general, Hotze, who headed 
a body of his countrymen, disaffected to 
the new order of things, distinguished 
himself at the beginning of the campaign 
on the side of the Austrians; but, in general, 
the Swiss seem to have been passive specta- 
tors of the fierce encounters which took 
place in their presence, between armies, 
none of which they could view in any other 
light than as the ravagers of their violated 
country. It was certainly a most extra- 
ordinary circumstance, that the barbarians 
of the north and the tyrants of the south 
should meet to decide their quarrels in the 
retired and supposed inaccessible valleys 
of the Swiss Alps. 

The treaty of peace signed at Luneville 
in February 1801 between the French and 
Austrian governments, contained an ar- 
ticle expressly guaranteeing the independ- 
ence of the Helvetic republic, together 
with that of others, with the right of the 


people inhabiting them to adopt what form 
of government they please*. As the new 
constitution, though acquiesced in through 
necessity, had been found productive of 
many disorders, and seemed insuperably 
repugnant to the small cantons in par* 
ticular, this solemn permission to change 
it according to their pleasure, was seized 
upon with avidity by the people of Switz- 

A general diet assembled at Berne in 
September 1801, and after a successful con- 
test on the part of the democratical can- 
tons, who, claimed their antient liberty, a 
new government was organized in October, 
upon the plan of the original confederacy, 
which provisionally appointed a senate 
and executive council, and placed at the 
head of the latter that Aloys Reding whom 
we have seen acting as the hero of the last 
noble but unsuccessful struggle. At the 
same time, the former magistrates, who 
had been displaced by the French direc- 
tory, resumed their seats. 

Dissensions still prevailing between the 
parties, Reding went to Paris to confer 

* Article XL of the treaty of Luneyille* 


with Bonaparte ; and it was at length 
agreed that a coalition should take place 
by the readmission of six members of the 
revolutionary or French party, in the room 
of six of the old magistrates who were to 
go out. After things had continued in this 
state during three months, which were 
spent in labours to frame a new consti- 
tution, the president, Reding, adjourned 
the senate for the Easter holidays. But 
he had scarcely returned to his family, 
when the new members, assembling in 
the night of April l?th 1802, displaced 
Reding and all his party, tore the plan of 
the constitution which had been formed, 
appointed persons to draw up a new one, 
and were the next day congratulated oi\ 
their measures by Verninac, the consular 
minister in Switzerland. 

The new code of government, which was 
the result of this change, had for its ba- 
sis the unity of the whole states, and was 
on that account rejected with strong marks 
of displeasure by the democratical can- 
tons. On the other hand, a majority in 
the aristocratical cantons declared in fa- 
vour of it ; though it is probable that most 


of the acceptants were chiefly influenced 
by the expectation that this step would 
free them from the French troops, which 
hitherto had continued in Switzerland un- 
der pretext of maintaining tranquillity. 

This circumstance immediately took 
place. The executive council of Helvetia, 
in a proclamation dated from Berne, July 
20th, announced to the citizens, that "the 
French government approved of the use 
they had made of their independence, and, 
as the first pledge of its esteem, declared 
its readiness to withdraw its troops from 
Hdvetia;" which offer the council had 

It soon appeared, however, that it was 
the presence of these troops which alone 
had produced the decision in favour of 
the new constitution; for their recall was 
the sigi^al of an open opposition to it, 
which shortly grew to a general insurrec- 
tion. The cantons of Schwitz, Uri, and 
Unterwalden, which had never received 
the constitution, and which confided in 
the promise given by the chief consul to 
Reding, " that the democratic cantons 
should be left to enjoy their antient laws/' 


formed a resolution of separating from the 
Helvetic republic, and renewing between 
themselves the antient confederacy of the 
AValdstaeten. Of this they apprised the 
new government, which in return issued a 
proclamation to deter them from their 
purpose. It asserted its determined reso- 
lution to introduce in all parts of the re- 
public the constitution adapted by the 
Helvetic people, and to carry it into effect 
against every species of opposition what- 
ever; and declared all landesgemein or as- 
semblies of the people held in the cantons 
to be illegal. 

The small cantons, however, persisted 
in their determination. They formed ma- 
gazines, organized troops, and at the same 
time addressed a manifesto to the rest of 
Switzerland, in which they disclaimed any 
intention to interfere in the internal go- 
vernment of others, but asserted their 
right of legislating for themselves. The 
spirit soon spread : Zug, Glaris, Appenzell, 
Baden, and the Rheinthal adopted the 
same cause, declared themselves in a state 
of insurrection, and sent deputies to 
Schwitz. The peasants at Baden had an 

: t 350 

engagement Svith the troops of the Helvetic 
government, and defeated them, and the 
militia of Unterwalden cut in pieces the 
vanguard of the same army as soon as it 
set foot on their territory. It was singular 
that the partisans of oligarchy united with 
those of democracy in efforts to destroy 
the new constitution a sufficient proof 
that it was the product of foreign influ- 
ence, not of the national will. Zurich, in 
which that constitution had been accepted 
by the greatest number of suffrages, shut 
its gates against a detachment of the Hel- 
vetic or government troops, commanded 
by general Andermatt, and underwent a 
bombardment the first ever known in 
Switzerland. This was afterwards renewed; 
but the barbarity of it excited a still more 
general hatred to the authority which had 
directed it. A large force of insurgents 
assembled under d'Erlach and other com- 
manders, and marched to Berne. After 
a bloody action under the walls of that 
city, the Helvetic troops within it agreed 
to a capitulation, and retreated to the 
Pays de Vaud. Andermatt, meantime, 
raised the blockade of Zurich, and left 


behind him his cannon. Other towns 
submitted to the insurgents, and by the 
20th of September all the German part 
of Switzerland was withdrawn from the 
Helvetic government. 

The democratical cantons, after the 
action in Untenvalden, had concluded 
an armistice with the Helvetic general, 
and took no part in the subsequent trans- 
actions, till the intelligence of the march 
of the people against Berne. Aloys Re- 
ding, the president of this confederacy, 
then detached his lieutenant-general after 
the retiring troops of the government; and 
in the name of the deputies of the five 
cantons sent a letter to Andermatt, de- 
claring him and his officers personally re- 
sponsible for any further hostilities they 
should commit in the support of a govern-' 
ment which they now regarded as dissolved. 
At the same time, these cantons issued a 
proclamation addressed to the other inha- 
bitants of Switzerland, in which they gave 
their reasons for interfering in the general 
concerns of the country, and called upon 
them to send deputies to a diet to be 
holden at Schwitz. This diet met on the 


27th of September, and declared Reding 
its president. 

Yer} r soon after the insurrection had 
begun to assume a formidable aspect, the 
Helvetic government, sensible of its dan- 
ger, had sent to invoke the mediation and 
good offices of France. Such an appli- 
cation could not fail of being readily list- 
ened to by the chief consul, whose po- 
licy, as well as that of the other rulers of 
France, has ever been to seize every pre- 
text of interfering in the concerns of the 
surrounding nations, in order to reduce 
them to a state of dependence. Although 
this application was made public, the 
Swiss appear to have indulged a confident 
hope that they should have been suffered 
to settle their own affairs by themselves; 
especially as the overthrow of the govern- 
ment imposed upon them had been ef- 
fected with extraordinary unanimity; and 
a return to their former federal system, 
with certain improvements and modifi- 
cations, was likely to be generally acqui- 
esced in. 

Great therefore were their surprise and 
consternation on learning the approach of 


a French army, which was preceded by a 
proclamation from the chief consul to the 
people of Switzerland, than which a more 
insolent and domineering mandate never 
emanated from despotic power, to a fo- 
reign and nominally independent com- 
munity. It was dated from St. Cloud, 
September 30th, 18O2, and contained, 
among others, the following expressions : 
" You have been disputing these three 
" years without coming to any under- 
" standing. If you are left longer to 
" yourselves, you will kill one another for 
"three years more, without coming to 
" any better understanding than before. 
" It is true that I had determined not ta 
" interfere in any respect in your affairs. 
" But I neither can nor ought to remain 
" insensible of the evils to which you ex- 
" pose yourselves. I retract my determi- 
" nation. I will be the mediator of your 
" differences ; but my Inediation shall be 
" efficacious, such as befits the great na- 
46 tion in whose name I speak/' 

He then goes on to command, that 
within five days from the publishing of 
this proclamation the senate shall assem- 
2 A 


ble at Berne; the prelects shall repair to 
their posts ; all authorities which may 
have been constituted since the com- 
mencement of the troubles shall cease to 
act; all armed assemblies shall disperse; 
all individuals shall deposit their arms at 
their municipalities; the senate shall send 
three deputies to Paris, and each canton 
may send deputies thither; &c. &c. "On 
" my part (says he), I have a right to ex- 
" pect that no city, no community, no 

body, will do any thing contrary to the 

dispositions which I make known to 


The office!', adjutant-general Rapp, who 
was the bearer of this mandate,- arrived at 
Lausanne on the day after the Helvetic 
troops had sustained a defeat in the Pays 
de Vaud from the insurgents, whose suc- 
cess caused such an alarm, that the mem- 
bers of the expelled government were pre- 
paring to depart for Savoy. They natu- 
rally considered this interposition as a 
deliverance, and issued a decree expressing 
the most lively gratitude to the chief con- 
sul. The officer proceeded to Berne, to 
communicate the consular will to the lead- 


<ers of that canton. Notwithstanding his 
efforts to obtain an answer from them, they 
referred him to the diet at Schwitz, as the 
legitimate representative of the Swiss na- 
tion. An armistice was in the mean time 
declared between the troops of the two 
opposite Swiss parties, yet commotions 
continued for some time longer in several 
of the towns and districts. 

The diet of Schwitz seem to have re- 
solved upon the part it was to act, which was 
one equally prudent and dignified. This 
was, to remain firm at its post, continuing 
to assert the right of the people whom it 
represented, to choose their own form of 
government ; and to render it manifest to 
-all the world, that when compelled a at 
length to yield, it was only in consequence 
of superior force. In their answer, trans- 
mitted to Kapp on October 8th, they say, 
with respect to Bonaparte Y offer of medi- 
ation, " We pledge ourselves,, citizen first 
consul; that the nation, -which' you your- 
self were willing to make-free, and which 
has been injured and imteited contrary to 
your intentions, will not abuse the liberty 
it claims. Wr are convinced we. shall at- 

2 A2 


tain that essential object of all social or- 
der, the moment our will and our efforts 
shall be no longer shackled/' 

In an address to their constituents, they 
made known their intention to wait the 
arrival of the French troops before they 
submitted, but without any idea of resist- 
ance. The address concluded; "The diet, 
therefore, have no doubt tha^t their coun- 
trymen will expect the French troops in a 
firm posture^ yet without resisting them 
in any way; but with patience and resig- 
nation recommending to God and to pos- 
terity the rights of the nation/' 

A further reason which induced the diet 
of Schwitz to refuse separating at the 
command of the first consul, was the de- 
sire of waiting the effect of certain appli- 
cations it had made to foreign powers for 
a friendly interposition in behalf of Swiss 
independence- It does not appear that 
these applications were attended to at any 
other court than that of Great Britain. 
In this, they produced a note from lord 
Hawkesbury toiMil. Qtto, dated from 
Downing-street* October 10th, 1802!, which 
has been printed :with the other state pa* 


pers communicated to parliament on the 
late renewal of hostilities between the 
French and English nations. This note 
expressed the sentiments of deep regret 
excited in his majesty's breast by the ad- 
dress of the first consul to the Helvetic 
people ; and explicitly declares that his 
majesty "sees the late exertions of the 
" Swiss cantons in no other light, than as 
" the lawful efforts of a brave and gene- 
" rous people to recover their antient laws 
4 * and government, and to procure the re- 
" establishment of a system which expe- 
" rience has demonstrated not only to be 
" favourable to the maintenance of their 
^ domestic happiness, but to be perfectly 
" consistent with the tranquillity and secu- 
" rity of other powers," Nor was this re- 
monstrance the sole measure adopted by 
the English ministry; for Mr. Moore was 
confidentially sent to reside in Switzerland 
in order to be an observer of the passing 
events, and the temper of the people; and 
he was directed, that if he -found them 
actually determined to resist the entrance 
of a French army into their country, he 
should, in his majesty's name, Accede to 


the application made by their representa- 
tives for pecuniary succours. 
. Mr. Mqore, however, did not arrive till 
two or three days before the submission of 
the diet; and though he took up his resi- 
dence for some time at Constance, to the 
great jealousy x and displeasure of the 
French government, yet his mission was 
entirely fruitless. 

The near approach of the French army 
caused at length the diet to dissolve itself 
on the 28th of October. Its last "act was 
to publish a proclamation of the following 

"-Th'e members of the diet return their 
powers to the hands of their constituents, 
having been impeded in their proceedings 
by a foreign armed force, and by the in-, 
fluence of extraordinary circumstances : 
they do not renounce the right guaranteed 
to the different cantons by the treaty of 
Luneville, of giving to Switzerland a suit-, 
able constitution, and they protest before 
hand against all that other inhabitants of 
Switzerland are about to do to renounce 
that right/' This last clause alludes to the 
Helvetic consulta then Assembling at 


ris for the purpose of framing a new con- 
stitution under the eyes of the first consul. 
It is not intended in this supplement to 
take a larger view of the affairs of Switz- 
erland since the period with which the ori- 
ginal work concludes, than that work has 
done of the antecedent period. We shall 
therefore only pursue the fate of the demo- 
cratical cantons, and their patriotic chief, 
Aloys Reding. This distinguished person, 
on the advance of the French to Schwitz, 
and their arrest of M. Hirzel, an antient 
magistrate of Zurich, was urged by his 
friends to withdraw from the country, and 
provide for his safety. Some even of the 
French officers, through a generous admi- 
ration of his character, are said to have 
sent him a passport. This, however, Re- 
ding returned to the officer who was em- 
ployed to arrest him, with the following 
speech : " Having unfortunately failed to 
restore independence to Switzerland, this 
in my opinion is an additional inducement 
for me to take upon myself the whole re- 
sponsibility. I have obeyed the voice of 
conscience and of rny country. Do you 
obey the orders of your master/* 



He was then conveyed under a strong 
escort to the castle of Arburg, where, with 
several of his colleagues, who resolved to 
share his fate, he was imprisoned for 
nearly four months. This severity was 
justified in the Paris papers by the asseiv 
tion that they had voted in the diet for 
giving battle to the French troops ; but 
as it appears, from the journals of that 
assembly, that the resolutions of non-re- 
sistance passed unanimously, this must 
be regarded as a false charge. If, indeed, 
foreign support could have been obtained, 
it is possible that the zealous friends of 
Helvetian independence might have been 
encouraged again to try the chance of 
arms in so just a cause ; and it is probable 
that their application for such support 
was their real offence. 

Meantime the opinions of the first con- 
sul respecting the settlement of Switzer- 
land seem, from some cause, to have un- 
dergone a change ; for, instead of main- 
taining the principle of unity in their 
government, he spoke to the members of 
the consulta the following language : 
" The more 1 have become acquainted 



with your country, the more I am con- 
vinced that it is not calculated to have 
only one single government. There must 
be a diversity in your particular forms of 
government : you must approximate to 
your antient constitution. Federalism 
weakens large states by dividing their 
strength ; it augments that of the small, 
because every part preserves its natural 
energy unimpaired/' 

In consequence of these ideas, and per- 
haps through a dread of again irritating 
that desperate valour the effects of which 
had been so severely felt, the democratical 
cantons were treated, in the new order of 
things, with peculiar indulgence. They 
were allowed to retain their popular in- 
stitutions, their landesgemeindtn, or gene- 
ral assemblies, and their convents, toge- 
ther with the name of Swiss, much more 
grateful to them than the more classical 
appellation of Helvetians. 

It would have been highly inconsistent, 
after these concessions, to have retained 
in captivity those leaders whose resistance 
to the power of France had been founded 
on the defence of these "very privileges. 


The mode of their liberation, however, 
occasioned some embarrassment, as no 
specific charge had been brought against 
them, nor had they ever been subjected 
to examination. It was thought, upon the 
whole, most advisable to throw the veil 
of oblivion over the transaction by a ge- 
neral amnesty, which was -made one of 
the articles of the act of mediation ; and 
soon after the doors of the prison were 
thrown open, and they were set free with- 
out any stipulations. The manner in 
which they were received by their grate- 
ful countrymen will give pleasure to every 
friend of public virtue. It is recorded in 
the following article of intelligence pub- 
lished upon the spot : 

*' The landesgemeinden of Claris, Ap- 
penzell, Schwitz, and Uri; were held ou 
the 27th of March. In each the assemblies 
were very numerous, and every thing was 
conducted with the utmost good order, 
At Schwitz, after the meeting had offered 
up to heaven a devout prayer, which, ac^ 
cording to their antient usage, was re-^ 
peated five times, the learned Dr.. Zay 
opened the- business of the day by a. 


speech, in which he addressed himself di- 
stinctly to the inhabitants of every district, 
reminding them of the glorious achieve- 
ments of their forefathers, and in the name 
of their country hailed them as freemen 
restored to their rights. They then pro- 
ceeded to the elections. Seven speakers 
successively enlarged on the important 
services Aloys Reding had rendered to his 
fellow citizens. Reding, who had in vain 
attempted to interrupt the course of these 
commendations, at length obtained a 
hearing : he represented that he had no 
claim to the praises which had been heap- 
ed upon him ; no other merit than that of 
having clone his utmost for restoring the 
antient liberties of his country. He twice 
with the utmost eloquence enforced his 
wish to decline the office of landamman, 
and recommended for that dignity the 
former landamman Schuler, who had so 
much distinguished himself by his patriot- 
ism : but the assembly was not to be diverted 
from its purpose ; Reding was elected by 
the acclamations of his free countrymen, 
o, all extending their hands to heaven, 


implored its benediction. When this ef- 
fusion of enthusiasm had subsided, the 
sword of justice and the seal of the state 
were solemnly delivered to Mr. Reding ; 
and then the people, after a preparatory 
discourse by doctor Zay, eagerly took the 
oath of obedience between the hands of 
the landamman. Auf-der-Maur was then 
chosen captain-general of the canton. 

" In Appenzell, the resistance of Zell- 
weger to his nomination as landamman of 
that canton, was in like manner over- 

*' In the landesgemeinde of Unterwal- 
den, on April the 3d, Wursh was chosen 
landamman. The other elections have all 
been in favour of those who had taken 
part in the insurrection of last August; and 
a decree has been passed for the repay- 
ment out of the treasury of the fines which 
have been imposed on thos& who were 
engaged in it." Thus far this article^ 

Although it is - impossible not to ac- 
knowledge that Switzerland; as a country, 
is now laid open to France, and must act 
in political subserviency to her, yet its in*. 


ternal state, especially in the small can- 
tons, by the restoration of its antient in- 
stitutions, seems likely to resume its for- 
mer tranquillity and humble happiness. 




W O R K S 





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